Saturday, September 17, 2005

Defining Political Crimes After 27 Years

Iranian blogger, Vahid Sabetian, Rooz Online:

Following extensive debates between Judiciary, Legislative and Executive powers, the new hardline government of Iran has tasked the new Minister of Justice to write the bill for defining political crimes in Iran. While the outcome of the bill and eventually law remains in the battles that will certainly occupy all politicians, one only hopes that after waiting for so many years, there will eventually be standards and identifiable lines that clarify what is accepted and what is not in the political domain of Islamic Iran. READ MORE

The exercise is not new. During Mohammad Khatami's government, the Interior Ministry had taken the responsibility of preparing such a bill. But the document was vetoed by the powerful Guardian Council and the Expediency Council. Finally, the bill and the subject were completely pushed aside by other hot political issues, and then forgotten. But Iranian activists are hopeful creatures. They expect that the drafting of such a sensitive bill will be done in consultation with legal and political experts so that it covers vast political spectrums and thus can not be effected by personal interpretations. But these are grand hopes and wishes.

Iran has witnessed plenty of arbitrary and questionable arrests during its past quarter century republican rule. Also, there have been controversial debates over the arrest of politicians, journalists and activists that are all considered political crime who were officially classified as non-political issues. The worst lame excuse of the officials has been the lack of clear definitions of political crimes. Many individuals and groups have questioned the detention, arrests, sentencing etc of activists, but never received any acceptable official explanation. This is a 27 year old question. So hopes are high.

When Emadeddin Baghi, Iranian journalist and writer asked for a public trial and a jury, his demand was denied since the judicial authorities claimed there was no definition for the political crimes. Baghi now writes in his website that denial of such objections based on article 168 of the constitution is a lame excuse and the absence of a formal definition has nothing to do with the citizen's responsibilities and their rights. He clarifies that after two decades of the Islamic rule, these rulers have not been able to define political crimes, and thus have violated the rights of the citizenry.

So many hope that this bill would clearly define political crimes and rights in Iran, which should help political activists in their work.