Latest News


The European Parliament voted today for a resolution condemning Iran for its treatment of journalists, activists, campaigners and human rights activists, and called for the European Union to increase pressure on Tehran.

Among the jounralists that have been targeted for harassment are those from the BBC Persian Service, many of whom are based in London. Family members back in Iran have been jailed by the regime - with the London-based journalists unable to visit them or their sick or dying elderly parents.

Labour MEPs backed the resolution, and have also called for all those unjustly detained in Iran to be released immediately, including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian dual citizen serving a five-year prison sentence in Iran for a crime she didn't commit.

Wajid Khan MEP, member of the European Parliament foreign affairs committee, said:

"Human rights defenders and trade union activists are arrested every day. They are arrested simply for campaigning for workers’ rights, for environmental standards and against the death penalty. The Iranian government is harassing BBC Persian journalists and their families. Many EU-Iranian dual nationals remain detained after a lack of due process and under vague charges.

"We heard this week that prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was given a long prison sentence, for defending dissidents and those brave women who removed their hijab in public. By inflicting such a harsh sentence, the regime is making an example out of Nasrin, and sending out a clear message that freedom of expression is not accepted.

"I have a message for the Iranian authorities: we will not stop calling for the release of Nasrin Sotoudeh, Taher Ghadirian, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and all those who are unfairly detained and have been sentenced without a fair trial. You cannot silence civil society. You cannot repress ideas, especially with the whole world watching. For our part, we will continue to support Iranians who want democracy and freedom for their country."

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Notes to Editors:

  1. The harassment of BBC Persian journalists started when the service launched satellite television in 2009. However, recent measures have escalated this persecution, and there are serious concerns for the safety and wellbeing of journalists and their families.
  2. In 2017 the Iranian authorities commenced a criminal investigation into journalists working for the BBC’s Persian Service in London, alleging their work is a crime against Iran’s national security. This was accompanied by an asset-freezing injunction preventing 152 named individuals, comprising mainly current and former BBC Persian staff, from buying or selling property inside Iran. The vast majority of the 152 named individuals affected by the injunction are UK nationals and live in London. There has also been an escalation in the harassment of their family members, with many interrogated or detained by the authorities. The impact of these measures upon BBC Persian staff has been extremely grave. They are concerned about the risk of further harassment of them or their families if they continue to do their jobs as journalists, or if they speak out to criticise the measures. The financial impact has been significant for many of those affected. Many BBC Persian staff have been unable to return to Iran to visit sick or dying elderly parents.
  3. In August 2018 comments were made through the Mizan news agency, which is affiliated with the Iranian judiciary, about BBC Persian on Iran’s National Day for Journalists. The report described BBC Persian staff and their ‘internal colleagues’ as a mafia gang who ‘must be held answerable for their actions against the Iranian people’. It went on to say that ‘they will surely be exposed one day before the Iranian nation, and God’s hand of justice will manifest itself through the arms of the Iranian people, and they will be punished for their actions.’
  4. In September 2018 inflammatory articles were published by Mizan and by Javan newspaper, a publication which is closely linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The Javan newspaper’s coverage included a montage of pictures of some members of the BBC Persian service with a headline stating, “All Paid By Terrorism.” The article criticised BBC Persian's coverage of the 22nd September attack on a military parade in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, claimed that BBC Persian had refused to term the attack a “terrorist” incident because of “BBC Persian's ties to takfiri [Sunni extremist] and Saudi financial sources and its being a bedfellow of [Islamic State group].”

Labour MEPs: Iran must stop persecuting, harassing and jailing journalists, trade unionists and human rights activists

The European Parliament voted today for a resolution condemning Iran for its treatment of journalists, activists, campaigners and human rights activists, and called for the European Union to increase pressure...

Read more


It is "absolute folly" for Theresa May to proceed with Brexit without checking it is still the "will of the people" following the latest crushing defeat in the House of Commons on her Brexit deal, the Leader of Labour's MEPs told the European Parliament today.

Richard Corbett MEP said:

"After the first rejection of the deal by the House of Commons back in January, Theresa May tried to renegotiate just one point, the Irish backstop, in order to appease the right wing of her party, but for a majority in the House of Commons, that was not the main problem with her deal.

"There were other problems and she made no attempts to address those issues. She only tried to appease the right-wing of her party, and she failed.

"So where does that leave us? A majority in the House of Commons does not want to leave without a deal, but the only deal on the table has been rejected. Where do you go from there? Logically there are only two possibilities, either you negotiate an alternative deal or you reconsider Brexit.

"An alternative deal, the chances of that look vanishingly small at the moment. Reconsidering Brexit needs a referendum. There is a majority in public opinion that wants another referendum, and opinion polls show that if there were another referendum, the British people would vote to remain in the European Union.

"It's absolute folly to proceed with Brexit on the ground that it is the will of the people when it may very well no longer be the will of the people. It's at least worth checking."

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Notes to Editors:

  1. The European Parliament Plenary debate on Brexit can be seen here:

Labour MEPs: "Absolute folly" for May to proceed with Brexit after latest crushing defeat

It is "absolute folly" for Theresa May to proceed with Brexit without checking it is still the "will of the people" following the latest crushing defeat in the House of...

Read more


Leaving the EU would make the gender equality that we have all fought for harder to achieve – and never has that been a more urgent issue than on International Women’s Day 2019, Labour MEPs have warned.

On average, worldwide, women enjoy only three-fourths the legal rights of men. Only six nations in the world grant women equal rights and all are European Union countries: Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, France, Latvia and Luxembourg have all enshrined gender equality into law. If Theresa May were really serious about tackling the burning injustices in our society, she could start with ensuring equality for women was front and centre of her domestic policy.

Gender equality is a founding aim of the EU, and it is recognised as a fundamental right in EU law. Since the UK joined in 1973, working women have gained significantly from this strong underpinning of their rights. Brexit risks the progress the women’s movement has made over the past 40 years, with the Tory government committed to removing us from the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

EU law has extended rights to equal pay and strengthened protection from discrimination based on gender. It has improved the treatment of pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace and introduced new entitlements for parents to take time off. Many women also benefit from basic rights, like paid holiday, that were introduced at EU level – many of the two million workers who had no paid holiday before the Working Time Directive were part-time women.

Recently, the work-life balance directive has passed through the European Parliament and the Council. This new legislation addresses challenges faced by working parents and carers, both of whom are usually women. It improves the rights for men to take time off when they become fathers, and extends this right for second parents regardless of their gender. In the Council, the UK government was part of a small group of member states that lobbied for the legislation to be held-up.

The Women’s Budget Group has shown that one million women’s jobs are at risk from the UK government’s Brexit deal, let alone a no-deal scenario. It poses risks to all those in employment. In an independent legal opinion commissioned by the TUC, Michael Ford QC said “all the social rights in employment currently required by EU law would be potentially vulnerable” if Britain were outside the EU, with women’s rights being particularly at risk.

Ford states:

“It is difficult to overstate the significance of EU law in protecting against sex discrimination. A history could be written based on the theme of progressive decisions of the ECJ correcting unprogressive tendencies of the domestic courts.”

This covers hugely important legislation, including: equal pay for work of equal value; the right to protection from discrimination on grounds of pregnancy; equal pensions; and increased sanctions and compensation for workplace discrimination.

Currently, European Protection Orders guarantee “crime victims who are granted protection from their aggressors in one EU member state will be able to get similar protection if they move to another” - they are applicable across EU borders and recognised throughout the EU. What will their status be in the UK after exit day? If a woman is experiencing domestic violence in one EU country and then comes to the UK, followed by her partner, will she still be protected? As a former home secretary, Theresa May knows full well that we must have an EU-wide approach to tackling crime.

The NHS that was front and centre of the referendum campaign is also now in danger. Seventy seven per cent of all staff in the NHS are women, with more than 5% of NHS nurses coming from the EEA (the figure rising up to 20% in London). The Nursing and Midwifery Council has reported that since the referendum there has been a 96% drop - ninety six per cent - in nurses from the EU joining the NHS, leaving hospitals with a shortage of around 40,000 nurses.

Achieving gender equality requires more than just changes to laws. Simone Veil, the first woman President of the European Parliament, made an Honorary Dame by the Labour government in 1998, said “pain is the root of knowledge”. In the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, we have seen that pain turn into protest and hopefully social progress. It has initiated change as women have challenged ingrained cultural norms and attitudes.

But this is just the start of the conversation and it cannot be a false dawn. Women must have more power and more control over ourselves and the laws we create. Leaving the EU would make the gender equality that we have all fought for harder to achieve – and, just three weeks before the scheduled date of Brexit, never has that been a more urgent issue than on International Women’s Day 2019.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Notes to Editors:

Here are some useful statistics on women's political participation and position in power; violence against women; and female education and employment which have been discussed in parliament recently:

- The economic research forum estimates that it will take 107 years to achieve gender equality (not taking into account the current and future back clashes against women's rights etc), and other studies estimate 200+ years.
- In 1979 when the European Parliament began, 17 per cent of MEPs were women; 40 years later, this has only increased to 36% in 2019 - an increase from 1/6 to 1/3.
- The Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group has 44% female MEPs, compared to 28% for EPP (European People's Party) and 22.7% for ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists).
- France, following the introduction of quotas, saw an increase from 13% (2008) to 50% (2018) in female electoral representatives.
- 1/3 of managers are female.
- Only 16% of mayors in Europe are women.
- Only 33% of European NGOs are headed by women.
- 35% of women worldwide have experienced domestive or sexual violence (not including other gender violence or sexual harassment).
- More than 50% of murdered women are killed by their intimate partner (compared to 1/20 for men).
- 45% of women (cf. 35% of men) have a university education.
- However, only 17% of ICT (information and communications technology) graduates are women.
- Degree segregation: only 20% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) graduates are women, and only 20% of EHW (education, health, welfare) graduates are men.
- 85% of university heads are men.

Labour MEPs: Leaving the EU would make gender equality harder to achieve

Leaving the EU would make the gender equality that we have all fought for harder to achieve – and never has that been a more urgent issue than on International...

Read more

More Stories >

As with most websites, we will place cookies on your computer to help make your visit to this site better.

Use of this site confirms your acceptance of these cookies.