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EU Urges Iran To Return To Human Rights Talks

Rights groups and the international community accuse Iran of being all too ready to execute prisoners (epa) 20 December 2005 -- The European Union issued a statement today criticizing Iran for refusing to resume a dialogue on human rights that was broken off by Tehran more than a year ago.

The statement, issued on behalf of the European Union by its British presidency, says the EU is "deeply concerned" that the human rights situation in Iran continues to worsen.

It points to the frequent use of the death penalty, which often follows minor crimes and is applied to child offenders.

The EU also says freedom of expression is still severely restricted in Iran, while censorship of the Internet and press is widespread.

The statement criticizes the continuing harassment and intimidation of human rights activists, and condemns the detention of "prisoners of conscience" such as Akbar Ganji and his lawyer, Abdolfattah Soltani.

The EU says it remains open to dialogue with Iran and urges Tehran to agree to another round of human rights talks as soon as possible.

Iranian officials walked away from those talks in June 2004.

(compiled from wire reports)