By John Irish
PARIS (Reuters) - France's foreign ministry this week summoned Iran's envoy over the country's human rights record, three sources aware of the matter said, signalling concern about what Paris calls "serious and constant violations".
Separately, Germany on Friday issued a critical statement on Iran to the United Nations Human Rights Council on behalf of 47 countries, while U.N. rights experts demanded Tehran release imprisoned prominent rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh for medical treatment.
France rarely comments publicly on human rights in Iran, but on Sept. 22 Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said more needed to be done over what he said was worsening human rights violations in Iran following anti-government protests in 2019.
When asked whether France, in conjunction with Britain and Germany had acted collectively, to warn Iran over its treatment of political prisoners and dual nationals held in the country, a foreign ministry official sidestepped the question.
"The French authorities regularly express their concerns about the serious and constant violations of human rights in Iran," spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said.
"These concerns are shared by many partners, including Germany and the United Kingdom."
One source said the three European powers had acted jointly and warned Iran that its actions were harming relations. Two sources said the envoy had been summoned on Thursday.
The move by the three powers comes as they strive to keep alive a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, while confronting U.S. efforts to raise pressure on Tehran and kill the accord.
Washington on Thursday blacklisted several Iranian officials and entities over alleged gross violations of human rights. The European Union has not imposed sanctions over rights violations in Iran since 2013.
Responding to a report on the European summonings in Britain's Guardian newspaper, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh, rejected what he called interference in the country's internal affairs.
"Iran believes the politically motivated behaviour and selective moves of the U.S. and certain European governments have always dealt the heaviest blow to the principle of human rights," he said in a statement.
Germany's statement on behalf of 47 countries said: "We remain deeply concerned about the persistent human rights violations in Iran especially related to the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
"Credible Reports of arbitrary detentions, unfair trials, forced confessions and practices of torture and ill-treatment of detainees in the context of the recent protests are particularly concerning, the statement said.
(Reporting by John Irish, additional reporting by Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay in Geneva and Dubai newsroom; Editing by William Maclean)