(No. 192 - July 7, 2011 - 4:45 p.m. ET) John Baird, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, today expressed concern over reports that the Iranian judiciary may sentence an Iranian Christian, Youcef Nadarkhani, to death for apostasy:
"Canada calls upon the Iranian court to respect its obligations under international human rights law, including the right to freedoms of religion and belief, and the due process of law.
"If the court decides on capital punishment, it would be the first execution based on an individual’s choice of religion or belief since 1990. Iran has consistently persecuted minorities for their religious beliefs, including the seven leaders of the Bahá’í community whose imprisonment for practising their faith was increased to 20 years.
"Freedom of religion or belief is a universal human right that Canada has championed at every opportunity in international forums. In the recent Speech from the Throne, our government renewed our pledge to create an Office of Religious Freedom to monitor and combat precisely this type of persecution around the world.
"Canada hopes that the international community will join in this call to pressure Iranian authorities to uphold the fundamental rights, to which every person is entitled."
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