Respecting Legitimate Freedoms and Protecting Citizens’ Rights: Excerpt from the Iranian legal framework.
[Editor’s Note: Iran Press Watch has recently published a number of articles by qualified authors in an effort to make the Iranian legal framework accessible to the readers. Recently, in this series you can read “Iranian Islam, not the Yaran, on trial in the court of international opinion,” and “The Trial of the Yaran under Iranian Criminal Procedure: ‘The Justice of God’ or Procedural Injustice?” by Dr. Christopher Buck. Now we are happy to provide a translation of a portion of a piece of legislation, “Respecting Legitimate Freedoms and Protecting Citizens’ Rights,” adopted in Iran on 4th of May, 2004. The translation is by Mr. Omid Ghaemmaghami, a doctoral student at the University of Toronto.]
Respecting Legitimate Freedoms and Protecting Citizens’ Rights
“Single Act”: From the date of the adoption of this statute, all public tribunals, Revolutionary Courts, military courts, public prosecutor offices, and judicial officials are bound to observe the provisions articulated below in carrying out their legal duties. Violators will be prosecuted to face punishment, as prescribed by law.
1. The investigation and prosecution of crimes, the performance of searches, and the issuance of rulings governing security and temporary arrests must be based on the law, and must result from judicial decisions and warrants that are clear and transparent. Investigators, prosecutors and judges must set aside all personal interests and eschew the abuse of power or any act of violence or undue detention.
2. Convictions must be in accordance with legal procedures and should be restricted to those who commit the crime and their accessories. Until such time as the crime has been established in a court of law and a verdict that is based on sound arguments and supported by legal evidence or based on sources of religious jurisprudence (in the event that legal evidence is not available), the defendant is presumed innocent. Each person is entitled to protection under the law.
3. The court and the public prosecutor’s office must not deprive defendants and the accused of the right to a legal defense, and must always provide the accused an opportunity to seek the counsel of an attorney or [legal] expert.
4. Islamic ethics and rules of conduct must be completely observed in dealing with the complainant, the accused, the perpetrator of a crime, or any source with information about the crime, as well as in the performance of all assigned duties.
5. The guiding principle that individuals should not be arrested or detained without due process demands that all necessary arrests and convictions follow the procedures and conventions that have been determined by the law. In the event of a moratorium, the file must be sent to the appropriate judicial authorities, and the family of the detained must be apprised of any and all developments.
6. During the arrest and interrogation or search of individuals, [the authorities] must avoid harassing individuals by blindfolding, shackling, humiliating or demeaning them.
7. Interrogators and investigators must not cover the faces of the accused, nor sit behind them [during an interrogation], nor transfer them to an unknown place. They must not use any unconventional methods [of interrogation]. Instead, they should rely wholly on controlled, proper methods of investigation and modern techniques of interrogation.
8. Local inspection and investigations aimed at arresting fugitives or locating machinery or equipment related to a crime must be in accordance with the stipulations of the law. No attempt may be made to harass anyone. All precautions must be observed. Officials must refrain from inflicting harm to documents or objects that are not related to the crime or the accused. They may not attempt to reveal the contents of letters or private documents, nor display family pictures and home movies and tapes [to the public].
9. All manner of torture of the accused to obtain a confession or force him to do anything else is prohibited. Any confessions obtained through torture have no legal merit or legitimacy.
10. Investigations and interrogations must be supervised and completed by individuals with prior training, and be based on balanced principles and procedures of the law. Those who choose to ignore these stipulations and resort to illegal measures in the performance of their duties will face prosecution with severe consequences.
11. Questions [posed by the interrogator] must be clear, purposeful, and related directly or indirectly to the accusations. Curiosity about private personal and family matters, questions about previous transgressions or queries into issues that are unrelated to the case must be avoided.
12. Responses must be recorded as they are stated without any changes or amendments, and then must be read back to the accused. Those who are literate may write their own responses if they wish, so that no doubts about distortion or misrepresentation may be created.
13. The court and the public prosecutor’s office must oversee the detention centers and the special rules that govern their work. They are also responsible for supervising how officers and officials treat the accused. They must encourage and appreciate those officials who act in compliance with legal stipulations, and prosecute those who circumvent and transgress the same.
14. The improper spending of funds or use of belongings seized from the accused must be avoided. As soon as possible, a ruling or decision must be issued by the court, and the public prosecutor will determine what will happen with the accused’s belongings. Until such time that a ruling is reached, all precautions must be to taken to protect such belongings; under no circumstances may they be subject to personal or administrative use.
15. The head of the judiciary must appoint a committee to supervise the implementation of the above provisions. All departments that are in some way affected by this law must cooperate with this committee. The committee has the duty to prosecute those whom it finds to be in violation of these provisions. It must also work to correct any deficiencies in procedures, and bring them into compliance with these legal stipulations. It must prosecute violators severely, and must report all its actions to the head of the judiciary.
The above legislation consisting of a “single Act” was ratified by the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran in open session on Tuesday, 4 May 2004. It was endorsed by the Guardian Council of the Constitution on 5 May 2004.
Mehdi Karroubi, Speaker of Parliament
Source: You can see the original text of the legislation at Iran’s Bureau of International Affairs’ official web site: http://www.bia-judiciary.ir/tabid/144/Default.aspx