The United Nations, Amnesty International, and ordinary people all want to talk about Iran’s judiciary and its human rights record. So does the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Larijani. He made the offer in a speech on August 3rd.
Iran has the second highest number of recorded executions in the world, after China, for which there are no exact figures available. Last month (July) 58 were executed in Iran. In 2015, 977 were executed*, six times more than the next country on the list, Saudi Arabia, where 158 were executed. Among the executed in Iran are young people who were found guilty of crimes committed when they were under 18.
The legal process is very disturbing. Some are sent to the gallows without ever having had access to a lawyer or a proper trial and for very vaguely defined crimes such ‘blasphemy against God’.
Arbitrary arrest is also an issue. The security forces can arrest anyone – including Christians who simply want to be Christian - whenever they want and keep them for as long as they want.
The interrogations are intimidating. Prisoners are blindfolded; often threatened; usually kept in solitary confinement to break their spirits; sometimes torture is used.
Larijani has said he is willing to talk, on the condition that the human rights record of other countries is also on the agenda. Let us pray that - whatever the reason he made this statement - Larijani and others in positions of power, would become genuinely committed to improving the human rights situation in their country.
*Source: Amnesty International