Government response to report

13 September 2023

I also want to rise to take note of the response to the inquiry report Human rights implications of recent violence in Iran. The government, as we heard from the minister, does support the overarching principles of the report and the work that the committee undertook late last year—and, obviously, earlier this year as well. This was very crucial work in helping inform government about holding the Iranian regime to account for its shocking human rights abuses towards its own people, including the violent crackdowns that we saw across the media and its treatment of Mahsa Jina Amini.

The government, as acknowledged by the minister, does not accept the committee’s findings that Australia continues to lag behind other nations in responding to human rights abuses in Iran. The government has been consistent, proactive and assertive in holding the regime to account for its gross violations of human rights and has condemned in the strongest possible terms Iran’s repression of protesters, and its treatment of women and girls in that country. Australia has been integral in building pressure internationally, and I think that’s probably going to be the key focus here. Australia alone can’t solve the problems that we’ve been seeing, sadly, but we have to work with our international partners, our allies and friends, to build that pressure on Iran to change its attitudes and how it treats women and children. Australia has been at the forefront of efforts to remove Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women, and it has cosponsored and advocated for the establishment of an independent fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations in Iran.

I want to thank the many individuals and organisations that made a contribution to the inquiry that led to the report of the committee. I deeply acknowledge the lived experience and courage of the many people who came to the committee. Senator Chandler and I heard invaluable evidence in that inquiry. The violent measures employed by the Iranian government against those who stand up to this oppression, particularly women and girls, is abhorrent. As we discuss this issue in the chamber, we must keep at the front of our minds the extraordinary courage of those in Iran and abroad who continue to express their fierce opposition to the oppressive practices of the Iranian government. This opposition often comes at great risk to them and their families, as we heard in the inquiry. This Saturday marks the first anniversary of Jina’s death three days after she was arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly breaking a dress code. Her arrest, detention, ill treatment and death have been a source of much anger and resolve for all those who stand up against oppression, particularly the Iranian community here in Australia.

The government here in Australia has taken more action than any previous government to hold that regime to account for its use of violence to deny human rights to its own people. This has included the imposition of Magnitsky style targeted financial sanctions on Iranian entities and additional financial sanctions and travel bans on individuals. As we heard from Minister Wong earlier, additional people have been added to the sanctions list today. These individuals include four members of Iran’s morality police responsible for the death of Jina. Sanction targets also include senior law enforcement, political and military figures, including within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, involved into the violent crackdown on protests. Further sanctions were applied against Iranian individuals and entities involved in the production of drones and their supply to Russia. These Iranian made drones have been used by Russia to target Ukrainian civilians and civilian infrastructure. The government today rightly announced that it is building on its unprecedented action against Iran on human rights with further sanctions. This follows amendments to Australia’s autonomous sanctions framework to ensure our sanctions can capture more Iranian actors, including those involved in the oppression of women and girls. Sanctioned individuals include the police spokesperson for Iran’s law enforcement forces, who has repeatedly made intimidating and threatening statements towards Iranian women and girls for violating their veiling laws. Targeted entities include Iran’s cyber police, which is central to obstructing freedom of expression through restricting internet activity in Iran, and Press TV, the state backed TV channel which has broadcast the forced confessions of many Iranians and dual nationals who are detained and tried under politically motivated judicial procedures.

I am glad to hear today that the minister has made a number of announcements, including tabling the government’s response. The fact is that the government has been at the forefront of holding Iran to account and has taken stronger action against the Iranian government on human rights than any government in the past. I want to express my solidarity with the Iranian people in their struggle against oppression and thank all the individuals and organisations who played a very important and significant role in the committee’s inquiry.