New Zealand suspends bilateral human rights dialogue with Iran

REUTERS/Lucy Craymer/File Photo
New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong (not pictured) speak to the media following a bilateral meeting, in Wellington, New Zealand, June 16, 2022.

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – The New Zealand government said on Monday it has suspended its official bilateral human rights dialogue with Iran, saying bilateral approaches were “no longer tenable” with basic human rights being denied in the country.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said in a statement the decision to suspend the dialogue sends a strong signal that bilateral approaches on human rights were not tenable with Iran denying basic human rights and violently suppressing protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was arrested by the morality police for attire deemed inappropriate.

“Violence against women, girls or any other members of Iranian society to prevent their exercise of universal human rights is unacceptable and must end. This is clearly a difficult time for the people of Iran,” Mahuta said.

New Zealand and Iran had established the dialogue in 2018 with the stated hope of advancing human rights issues and concerns. A first round of talks was held in 2021, with the next one scheduled to take place later in 2022.

New Zealand officials last week confirmed that two New Zealanders who had been detained in Iran for a number of months, had been released and were safe. The New Zealand government also last Wednesday updated its travel warnings for Iran and urged New Zealanders currently there to leave.