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Justice for All

by SEPIDEH KALANTARIAN in Paris

09 Apr 2010 19:415 Comments
498756_orig.jpg[ opinion ] Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, the head of the Iranian judiciary, at a meeting with several grand ayatollahs in Qom on April 2, declared that the judicial system "is not a tool" in the hands of n'importe qui and that "in dealing with economic crimes by influential figures, there is no safe zone."

Although these admirable statements have been applauded by many pro-government politicians, they need to be considered both from a legal point of view and in the context of recent events in Iran. Why did the country's chief jurist feel obliged to announce his intention to enforce principles that should be the basis of any working legal system?

This statements by Larijani are rooted in two fundamental and vital legal principles: the neutrality of the judiciary and the equality of all under the law. These principles, already enshrined in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, are considered basic human rights and international legal norms under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which has been ratified by Iran. Both domestic and international legal obligations thus require the Iranian government to respect and enforce these common principles. The judiciary's responsibilities in this regard are a duty, not a kindness to the Iranian people that may be forsaken at any turn.

Such statements as those of Larjani are tacit admissions that these basic principles have routinely been violated by the Iranian judiciary in the aftermath of last June's election. As evidenced by the prosecutions undertaken over the past nine months, there has been no authentic commitment to these principles. The judiciary has been far more dedicated to their manipulation and subversion than to their enforcement. The rampant irresponsibility and blatant violations have sparked protests not only from opposition leaders and ordinary citizens, but from some of the grand ayatollahs in Qom, including several identified with the conservative camp. Larjani's recent remarks were prompted specifically by these latter complaints. Given the disrespect shown to basic legal principles, his statements certainly are worth applauding, if they indicate an actual change of course.

Obviously, however, a verbal declaration is not enough by itself to prove good faith. Action is required. Most importantly, the judicial authorities and the lord chancellor must ensure that those responsible for the reprehensible treatment of election protesters and students in Kahrizak detention center, including beatings, torture, and sexual assaults, do not escape punishment for their deeds.

Throughout the post-election detention process, there have been massive violations of fundamental human rights. It is time to restore justice to a system that has recently brought little but shame to Iranian society. In the coming days, the events of Kahrizak will be under consideration by the judiciary. The case of Saeed Mortazavi -- Tehran's former chief prosecutor, well-known adversary of Iran's newspapers, dedicated enemy of free speech, and the man most responsible for the violation of human rights during the post-election crisis -- presents an ideal opportunity for the judiciary to demonstrate the neutrality that is its obligation and for Larjani to fulfill his promise.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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5 Comments

The problem with justice is that it is often a double edged sword. The 'hardliners' also want those who are leaders of the 'seditionists' on trial and if they had their way probably executed by now. What is important is that the Judiciary must uphold the law as best as it can. No system of law is perfect including a Divine one as the interpretation and implementation still rests in the hands of fallible human beings however good and 'just' they maybe. But as they say actions speak louder than words. Ayatullah Sadeq Larejani and indeed the ulama as a whole need to demonstrate that the justice of Imam Ali and the Prophet that they so fondly speak of and which is to be found in the religious texts can actually be implemented. Otherwise over time as injustices (perceived or real) pile up, citizens will both lose faith in the IR system and possibly faith in the religion of Islam altogether, which is what some in the opposition and these columns would love to happen. Sadeq Larijani the ball is in your court and you can prove Islam's opponents wrong by your good actions.

rezvan / April 10, 2010 4:05 AM

I wouldn't hold my breath for justice in the Barbaric Republic.

Niloofar / April 10, 2010 4:08 AM

" ... Otherwise over time as injustices (perceived or real) pile up, citizens will both lose faith in the IR system and possibly faith in the religion of Islam altogether, which is what some in the opposition and these columns would love to happen. Sadeq Larijani the ball is in your court and you can prove Islam's opponents wrong by your good actions."

rezvon,

Tell me you are not serious. Please. After all that happened right before your eyes and the eyes of the world, real time, tell me you are not serious.

Niloofar / April 10, 2010 6:41 AM

@ Rezvan : Those who are criticizing the supreme leader and the government of Islamic Republic of Iran are not Islam's opponents. Supreme leader and his staff are not Muslim. They are as Muslim as Saddam Hussein was a good Muslim.

But I personally know a few good Muslims who are currently in Evin prison ;)

Nima / April 10, 2010 6:49 AM

Justice may be a "double-edged sword", a nebulous affair but injustice is all too easily and universally recognized. At the risk of posting another book review, I have to mention that one of my all-time favorite books by Yuri Dombrovsky is entitled 'The Faculty of Useless Knowledge' which was the authors term for Russian law in Stalins time and possibly applies to the application of law in other times and places.

pirooz / April 10, 2010 8:47 AM