Iran: The Approval of the Bill for Supervision over Parliament Representatives: Consolidating the Legal Foundations of a Garrison State Arseh Sevom School – October 3

The Arseh Sevom School objects to the passage last Wednesday of the Bill for Supervision over Parliament Representatives (consisting of 12 Articles). Arseh Sevom School calls up on a complete suspension of the law and the prevention of its approval by the Guardian Council. The Arseh Sevom School believes that the approval of this law is an extreme violation of the fundamental right in a democracy for the people to have independent representatives in government institutions. It represents a step towards the consolidation of a total dictatorship in the form of a garrison state.

Parliament representatives drafted the twelve-article Bill for Supervision over Parliament Representatives after speech by the Supreme Leader in 2010. Following the approval of its first draft in Parliament, it was sent to the Article 90 Commission and Joint Parliamentary Commission for review. Eventually, those commissions sent the bill to the Parliament floor in September 2011 for review by the Parliamentary Managerial Board. After five review sessions in which the board made no fundamental changes, and in spite of some parliamentary representatives’ protests against it, Parliament approved the final version on Wednesday, September 28, 2011. As part of the final review session, however, the bill’s contradictions with the Constitution will be presented to the Guardian Council at a future date. Since the bill’s approval, some of the Parliament representatives and legal experts have warned publicly about this bill’s complete violation of aspects of the Constitution and fundamental rights of a democracy.

The bill for supervision over Members of Parliament, containing 12 articles, is a bill that violates Articles 84 and 86 of the Iranian Constitution by completely removing the legal immunity of Members of Parliament in fulfilling their role as representatives.

From a structural and practical view, elections have never been fair and free in any true sense, and candidates for popular representation in the Parliament must obtain confirmation of their ideological and practical adherence to the ruling political order. However, according to the Internal Statute of the Islamic Consultative Assembly[1] and Article 86 of the Iranian Constitution, they enjoy legal immunity in fulfilling their duties as representatives. Of course, in the past, Iranian representatives have been prosecuted judicially after making erroneous speeches on the Parliament floor, or public speeches or interviews, but these prosecutions have had no legal basis. The approval of the bill on supervision of Parliament representatives eliminates this legal immunity, and the small number of critical representatives who are attempting to fulfill their duties, now have no feeling of legal security. They will definitely now remain silent, particularly because they will face ambiguous charges falling under the label “endangering national security,” which carries heavy penalties under the law. The silencing of representatives under this law violates completely the right to representation of the people’s representatives in the Iranian Parliament.

On the other hand, this bill limits the role for the people to supervise their representatives directly or indirectly, and instead appoints a 6-person council in the Parliament to do the job. This bill prevents the people from exercising their fundamental right to supervise their representatives, whether indirectly through other representatives or directly by people.

Other contents of the bill for supervising representatives include the elimination of the independence of the judiciary in confronting representatives, which from a legal perspective has been deemed illegal. This is because if a representative is under criminal prosecution, complete reports must be sent to a “supervisory committee” created by this bill. On the other hand, while conducting its reviews, the supervisory committee may arrive at the conclusion that one representative must be criminally prosecuted, and they must inform Judiciary officials. The Judiciary branch then must address the accused representative in a special court, hence forgoing its independence in confronting representatives.

According to Article 1 of the proposed bill on supervision over representatives, at the beginning of every parliamentary term, a “supervisory committee” composed of six representatives must be formed. Article 2 of this bill defines the responsibilities of this committee. It receives reports about the offenses committed by representatives in five fields: financial, moral/behavioral, national security, tardiness and absence from Parliament meetings, and lack of transparency in reporting sources of income and funding electoral expenses. The committee is authorized to review these reports and issue judicial verdicts in these cases. However, the Internal Statute for the Islamic Consultative Assembly only specifies that tardiness and absence from Parliament meetings can be prosecuted; investigating all other cases is the outside of the Parliament’s authority. According to Iranian common law, the Iranian judiciary has authority, and is the only institution that can investigate financial and other general offenses by Parliament representatives, not withstanding their legal immunity. This bill makes two main additions to the list of crimes specific to representatives: violations of the Moral Charter of Members of Parliament, which is supposed to be codified after the passage of this bill, and actions that undermine national security. Because of the ambiguous nature of these new crimes, this bill effectively eliminates the legal immunity that representatives currently enjoy in carrying out their representation duties.

The bill for supervision over representatives emphasizes in Article 6 that representatives are immune from prosecution in fulfilling their duties, according to Article 86 of the Iranian Constitution and Article 75 of the Internal Statute of the Islamic Consultative Assembly. However, Footnote 1 of the very same Article specifies that the supervisory committee has the right to determine instances of criminal offenses, subject to Article 86 of the Constitution and Article 75 of the Internal Statute. This means that this six-person committee can decide whether any statement, speech, or interview of a representative represents a violation of the Moral Charter of Representatives, or undermines national security. This new procedure not only effectively eliminates the legal immunity granted to popular representatives in fulfilling their representative obligation; in addition, it replaces the role of the Judiciary regarding judging and issuing criminal verdicts about erroneous speeches and other possible violations.

Based on Article 8 of the bill of supervision over representatives, the Judiciary is required to create a special judicial branch dedicated to violations by Parliament representatives. Thereafter, the supervisory committee will refer cases of representatives’ offenses to these special branches, following the committee’s investigation. The special judicial branch will then hold a trial and send the results back to the supervisory committee.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the creation of special courts that function behind closed doors has eliminated the guaranteed right to equal treatment under the law. This is, unfortunately, a deeply-rooted tradition in Iranian government. At the same time, the Iranian experience with the existence of special courts, such as the Special Clerical Courts and the Revolutionary Courts, shows that these courts and their processes for addressing the law violate general procedures of justice. Further, they prevent criminal suspects from enjoying the right of equality under the law while on trial. In addition, we can expect that the Special Courts will violate the rights of Iranian representatives who are critical of the government, they will provides special privileges to representatives who support the government.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has made a consolidated effort for creating and fortifying a totalitarian government, particularly in the last two years. On one hand, it is militarizing and securitizing Iranian society. The government does so through attacking civil society and human rights institutions, arresting human rights and civil society activists, and restricting the means of publishing information through closing newspapers and arresting journalists and bloggers. It has suffocated and shut off all critical voices. At the same time, the government is approving anti-democratic legislation in many fields of civil society, effectively taking control over all political party activity and democratic and labor institutions. Now, with Parliament’s approval of the Bill for Supervision over Parliament Representatives, the government has eliminated the last possibility for the people to raise their voices through the last remaining semi-democratic government institution.

The Arseh Sevom School warns that the approval of the Bill for Supervision over Parliament Representatives, which is unconstitutional, will legally eradicate the last remaining semi-democratic Iranian government institution. It will also consolidate the legal foundations of a totalitarian garrison government. Now that all human rights lawyers in Iran either are jailed in Iranian prisons or forced to be silent, and the Iranian people no longer have any method to protest against their government, it is the responsibility of all civil society activists worldwide and international institutions to prevent the consolidation of the foundations of totalitarian government inside Iran. Creating an international campaign for the freedom and right to representation of the Iranian people by all democratic and international civil society institutions, including the Inter Parliamentary Union, is the only way to defend the Iranian people rights in fighting for an independent parliament. These campaigns not only must protest the approval of the Bill for Supervision over Parliament Representatives, but in addition, must also protest the vetting of electoral candidates by the Guardian Council, which limits the Iranian people’s rights to elect their representatives and run for election.

[1] The founding document of Iran’s Parliament..

Veröffentlicht am 3. Oktober 2011 in Medien, Meinungen, Politik und mit , , , , getaggt. Setze ein Lesezeichen auf den Permalink. Kommentare deaktiviert für Iran: The Approval of the Bill for Supervision over Parliament Representatives: Consolidating the Legal Foundations of a Garrison State Arseh Sevom School – October 3.

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