Saturday, September 17, 2005

A Human Rights Act

Iranian blogger, Mehrangiz Kar, Rooz Online:
In Iran these days there is talk of replacing detention and flogging as forms of punishment with something more human. This is a good sign and some officials have even gone as far as saying that the current forms of punishment have no legal basis. A departure from past practices? One wonders.

The head of Iran’s judiciary is on record saying that there is a bill that should take care of ending the practice of detaining women and children needlessly for misdemeanors. And unlike in the past, reference for such changes is even made to international treaties and agreements to which Iran has adhered. Reference to such documents as the International Convention on Human Rights, or the Rights of Children among others, is a very positive step. READ MORE

But while there is optimism in the air, there are also serious doubts. The Guardians Council, an appointed body of Islamic jurisprudents who have been very conservative and narrow in their interpretations of Islamic principles and the constitution, are feared again to block any progressive legislature in this regard. These realists point out to the record of the Council which has always vetoed any laws that promoted human rights on grounds of their incompatibility with Islamic laws, principles etc.

While there is good ground for doubt, the new realities of the political terrain of Iran may actually be more conducive to a more progressive outcome. There is a new Majlis, a new president, and other elected or appointed political agencies all of whom now belong to the very same or at least similar political spectrum, i.e. hardline and conservative thinkers. The absence of moderates and liberals in the government may prove to bring more security to the existing officials to become more realistic, because of the absence of the “outsiders” amongst them.

Certainly such a development would help improve Iran’s seriously tarnished image outside the country, especially amongst its own émigrés and those communities.

Mehrangiz Kar is an Iranian attorney and human rights activist living outside Iran.