Archiv für den Tag 17. Dezember 2014

Is Iran’s supreme leader subject to oversight?

Clerics attend the biannual meeting of Iran’s Assembly of Experts in Tehran, March 6, 2012. (photo by REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi)

Ali Motahari, an outspoken member of the Iranian parliament and son of the noted Islamic scholar Ayatollah Morteza Motahari (1920-79), openly accused the Assembly of Experts of negligence. Motahari argued that the body, consisting of 86 elected Islamic scholars, is responsible for overseeing the actions of Iran’s supreme leader.

“We do not have individuals above criticism in the country,” he said. “The responsibility of the Assembly of Experts is to supervise theperformance of the supreme leader and his subordinates, but we haven’t seen them approaching this subject.”

Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, Mashhad’s Friday prayer leader and a member of the assembly, fiercely countered Motahari’s assertions, saying, “The Assembly of Leadership Experts cannot supervise the leader’s performance because the leader [the guardian jurist] is the guardian of all [of us], and experts cannot supervise the performance of their own guardian … The leader is the guardian, and the experts are subjects of the authority … How can I supervise his actions when he is my guardian?”

Ayatollah Khamenei’s view

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has expressed two positions on this issue of supervision. In a 2000 gathering of university professors and students, he remarked, “No one is above supervision. Even the leader is not above supervision, let alone the organizations linked to the leader … Government by its very nature entails the accumulation of power and wealth. … As a result, they must be supervised. It is necessary to supervise government officials to make sure they resist their temptations and avoid corruption and misuse of public funds.”

In a 2006 interview, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, head of the powerful Guardians Council and a member of the Assembly of Experts, explained that the assembly had decided to establish a number of committees to supervise the supreme leader’s subordinates. These committees covered various categories, including the judiciary and defense establishment in addition to national radio and television, among others. Jannati said the committees were necessary to determine whether the organizational conditions required of the leader, including administrative capabilities, were sufficient. The assembly took its findings to Ayatollah Khamenei.

Jannati said, “We had several meetings with the leader and discussed the issue, [and] he was not agreeable [to the idea].” According to him, Khamenei said, “You have to examine my performance, not my subsidiaries‘. “[If you conclude that] I have lost prudence … then you can take action.”

Then, in February 2012, Abbas Nabavi, a cleric with close ties to the influential and hard-line Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, revealed additional comments by Khamenei regarding supervision. In a letter to the Assembly of Experts, Khamenei said, “Supervision must begin from the point of the presence of the conditions required for leadership. First you should examine to see whether the leader continues to have the requirements [as stipulated in Article 109 of the constitution] or not. If the answer is yes, then I do not accept that you should go into the minute details. If the answer is no, then you must provide the reasons, and, for example, say that a specific condition is not fulfilled.”

Based on this statement, Khamenei in general accepts the idea of supervision of the leader by the assembly. He limits it, however, to whether the requirements of the leader are being maintained. According to Article 109, the essential qualifications of the supreme leader are justice and piety, political and social discernment, prudence, courage and administrative capability.

Legal and religious arguments

Chapter 8, Article 111, of the Iranian Constitution reads: “Whenever the leader becomes incapable of fulfilling his constitutional duties, or lobs one of the qualifications mentioned in articles 5 and 109, or it becomes known that he did not possess some of the qualifications initially, he will be dismissed. The authority of determination in this matter is vested with the experts specified in Article 108.”

Many clerics support Ayatollah Khamenei’s argument that Article 111 does not imply micro-supervision. Rather, they maintain that the text only authorizes macro-level examination of the supreme leader’s capabilities in general.

The oversight issue had been raised and discussed in 1989 during meetings of the Assembly for Revising the Constitution, a panel of 25 members tasked by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini with preparing the draft of amendments to the constitution for a general referendum. Many on the panel, including Ayatollah Ebrahim Amini, were against the idea of the supreme leader being left to rule unsupervised. “No, really, how can the experts not supervise the performance of the leader and all of a sudden decide to dismiss him?”

According to the internal regulations of the Assembly of Experts, the seven-member Committee for Investigating and Supervising the Leader is tasked with providing advice to the supreme leader and with supervising the conditions and comportment of the leader on a continual basis. The committee reports to the assembly’s presiding board and, if two-thirds of the board and committee members agree, the assembly members are called for an extraordinary session to discuss whether it should take action with respect to the leader.

Despite this oversight mechanism, the supreme leader can, based on his understanding of the reality of day-to-day politics, potentially nullify decisions by the assembly, as Khamenei did in the case of the subcommittees. Some may argue that Iran’s leader uses his authority to influence the assembly’s decisions because the constitution’s Article 57 places all three branches of the government — the executive, legislative and judiciary — “under the purview of the absolute rule and leadership” of the supreme leader. One could counter, however, that the Assembly of Experts is not under the jurisdiction of any branch and is, therefore, not subject to his oversight.

According to Iran’s official religion, Twelver Shiism, no one, excluding the Prophet Muhammad, his daughter and the twelve Imams, is divinely free from error and sin. This principle, with the recognition that the leader himself is not immune from sin and error, is said to justify oversight by the Assembly of Experts. The effect of this principle also appears in Article 107, which states: „The leader is equal with the rest of the people of the country in the eyes of law.”

Ayatollah Khamenei, however, speaking on the extent of the authority of the guardian jurist in a fatwa, said, “According to Shiism, all Muslims have to obey the order of the guardian jurist and submit to his commands. This edict even applies to other grand ayatollahs, let alone their followers.” The vision outlined in this fatwa potentially neutralizes religious arguments supporting the leader’s supervision.


Against those who assert that the leader cannot be supervised because subjects cannot supervise their guardian, one could argue that Ayatollah Khamenei has stated that he does not reject supervision. In addition, oversight is, under Article 111’s description of the Assembly of Experts‘ role, constitutionally enshrined. Also, given the widely held religious principle that no individual escapes sin and error, no religious obstacle remains in justifying the leader’s supervision. Nevertheless, Ayatollah Khamenei’s interpretation of the role of the guardian jurist may supersede arguments supporting supervision.

Source: AI-Monitor

HUNGERSTREIKENDE MIT VOLLZUG DER TODESSTRAFE BEDROHT / Alleged juvenile offender among 10 hunger strikers threatened with immediate execution

Die iranischen Behörden drohen Häftlingen in der Todeszelle, die mit einem Hungerstreik gegen ihre Haftbedingungen protestieren, mit dem beschleunigten Vollzug der Todesstrafe. Amnesty International verurteilt diese menschenverachtenden Druckversuche.

10 Angehörige der kurdischen Minderheit, die unter dem Vorwurf der bewaffneten Rebellion zum Tode verurteilt worden sind, befinden sich seit dem 20. November 2014 im Hungerstreik. Sie protestieren damit gegen ihre Haftbedingungen. Neben anderen Strafmassnahmen und Misshandlungen drohen ihnen die iranischen Behörden auch damit, den Vollzug der Todesurteile voranzutreiben.

Todesurteile gegen Minderjährige

Betroffen davon ist auch Saman Naseem, der zum Zeitpunkt des ihm angelasteten Vergehens erst 17 Jahre alt war. Zudem hat er ausgesagt, während der Verhöre gefoltert worden zu sein. Die Verhängung der Todesstrafe gegen Minderjährige verstösst gegen internationales Recht. Amnesty fordert von den iranischen Behörden die umgehende Aufhebung des Todesurteils gegen Saman Naseem sowie einen neuen Prozess unter Ausschluss der Todesstrafe und ohne Verwendung der unter Folter zu Stande gekommenen Aussagen.

The Iranian authorities’ threat to expedite the execution of 10 men on death row in retaliation for going on hunger strike is deplorable, said Amnesty International as it called for the death sentences to be commuted immediately.

One of the 10, Saman Naseem, was sentenced to death in 2013 for engaging in armed activities against the state after he allegedly participated in a gun battle while he was a child during which a member of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guards was killed. The 10 men are among 24 prisoners from Iran’s Kurdish minority who have been on hunger strike since 20 November 2014 in protest at the conditions of Ward 12 of Oroumieh Central Prison, West Azerbaijan Province, where political prisoners are held.

“It is truly deplorable that the Iranian authorities are playing games with the lives of these men in such a manner. Resorting to death threats and other punitive measures to quell prisoners’ hunger strikes only serves to underscore how rotten Iran’s criminal justice system is,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Saman Naseem was a child at the time of his alleged offence. He says he has been tortured in detention and forced to “confess”. Now, the authorities are effectively blackmailing him with the prospect of death. Executing him would be a flagrant violation of international law. His sentence must be commuted immediately.”

Amnesty International is calling for Saman Naseem’s case to be re-examined fairly without recourse to the death penalty or relying on torture-tainted evidence, and taking into account provisions of Iran’s revised Penal Code that exclude the use of the death penalty for juvenile offenders in certain situations.

Saman Naseem was arrested on 17 July 2011 when he was just 17 years old. He was held for two months at a Ministry of Intelligence detention centre in Oroumieh, West Azarbaijan Province. While there, he said he was tortured by interrogators who pulled out his fingernails and toenails, and beat him leaving bruises on his back, legs and abdomen. He also said he was forced to sign a written “confession” while blindfolded.

On 14 December, Saman Naseem was transferred to a prison clinic suffering from low blood pressure and physical weakness, but he refused to break his hunger strike. He was returned to Ward 12 the same day.

Prisoners in Ward 12 at Oroumieh Central Prison went on hunger strike to protest against a decision to transfer 40 prisoners convicted of serious crimes, such as murder and armed robbery, to their ward leading to a deterioration in their security.

In addition to execution threats, the prison authorities have also reportedly subjected those on hunger strike to beatings and other punitive practices and threatened them with transfer to remote prisons in the south of the country, so as to force them to end their hunger strike.

The prisoners, who are all members of Iran’s Kurdish minority, say that they will continue their hunger strike until the authorities put an end to the abuse of prisoners. The hunger strikers who are not on death row are serving prison sentences ranging from six months to 34 years.

“The death penalty is a cruel and inhuman punishment under any circumstances. Instead of dealing out threats of execution against these prisoners the authorities must commute their death sentences and ensure they are treated humanely,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.


Saman Naseem was sentenced to death on charges of “enmity against God” (moharebeh) and “corruption on earth” (ifsad fil-arz) for allegedly carrying out armed activities against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

He was first sentenced to death in January 2012 by the Revolutionary Court of Mahabad but the sentence was overturned by Branch 32 of the Supreme Court in August that year for lack of jurisdiction by the Revolutionary Court and because Saman Naseem was under 18 at the time of the alleged offence. His case was reverted to Branch 2 of the Criminal Court of West Azerbaijan Province for re-trial.

In April 2013 he was sentenced to death again by Branch 2 of the Criminal Court of West Azerbaijan Province. The judgement made no mention of the issue that Saman Naseem was under 18 at the time of the alleged the crime. Branch 32 of the Supreme Court subsequently upheld his death sentence in December 2013. He could be executed at any time as his death sentence has been sent to the Office of the Implementation of Sentences.

Under Iran’s revised Islamic Penal Code, passed into law in May 2013, the execution of offenders under the age of 18 is allowed under qesas (retribution-in-kind) and hodoud crimes under Islamic law, unless the juvenile offender is found to have not understood the nature of the crime or its consequences, or if there are doubts about their mental capacity.

In 2014, Amnesty International received reports of the execution of at least 14 individuals for crimes allegedly committed while they were under 18 years of age. The use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders is strictly prohibited under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of a Child, which Iran is a party to.

The names of the other nine prisoners on death row are, in alphabetical order: Ali Afshari, Habib Afshari, Behrouz Alkhani, Mohammad Abdollahi, Sayed Sami Hosseini, Sayed Jamal Mohammadi, Sirvan Nejavi, Ebrahim Rezapour, Ali Ahmad Soleiman.

Quelle: Amnesty

Berlin| Qualifiziert handeln – Flüchtlinge im Gemeinwesen / Zusammenleben in Kommunen gestalten | Tagung

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