Justice for All
by SEPIDEH KALANTARIAN in Paris
09 Apr 2010 19:41
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