Lord Roberts of Llandudno: There is only one ethical course for the British Government

Click to follow
The Independent Online

On 13 March, I delivered a letter to the Home Office signed by 80 peers from all parties calling on the Home Secretary to block the deportation of Mehdi Kazemi. Following this, temporary leave to remain has been granted.

Iran is a country where the penal code prescribes execution by stoning and dictates the stones be large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill immediately. This is the law of Iran. As such we cannot turn to the law of Iran to guide us. Can we turn to international law?

The UN safeguards guaranteeing protection rights for those facing the death penalty, clarified in Resolution 2005/59 of the Commission on Human Rights, says clearly the death penalty should not be imposed for non-violent acts such as sexual relations between consenting adults.

This does offer a clear guideline for action. Considering Iran has not adhered to the resolution, we ought not to deport homosexuals to a country where we know they are likely to be executed.

This is a matter of avoiding a breach of international law but, more than that, it is a matter of not sending a 19-year-old man, who has hurt nobody, to his death.

There is only one ethical course of action for the British government to take. A moratorium on removals to Iran for all those who fear execution. Indeed, the Home Office has gone some way to acknowledge such a principle. In its own guidance, its says that where anyone demonstrates their homosexual acts have brought them to the attention of the authorities so they face persecution they should be granted refugee status.

The Government will be aware that, since the ayatollahs came to reign in Iran, humanitarian organisations tell us that 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed in that country. What representations have Her Majesty's Government made and what representations do they continue to make about that policy? Can ministers assure us on behalf of the Government that no one, gay or otherwise, will be deported to any country where they will be persecuted, tortured or executed?

Lord Roberts of Llandudno is a Liberal Democrat peer

Click here to have your say