The judiciary in Iran, led by Ayatollah Larijani, answers only to the Supreme Leader: and the Supreme Leader answers to nobody. This might explain the confident tone of Ayatollah Larijani’s recent pronouncements.
A few days ago President Ahmadinejad wanted to visit a former press advisor, Mr Ali Javanfekr, who is serving a six month sentence in Evin Prison for writing an article considered offensive to Iran’s religion. Ayatollah Larijani blocked the visit. And then Iran’s Prosecutor General, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje, gave the President some advice on how he should be spending his time. This is a confident judiciary, not too concerned about how even the president is treated.
Nor does the judiciary seem concerned about the United Nations and its Special Rapporteur Ahmad Shaheed. His last report calling for the release of all political prisoners from Iran’s prisons and a moratorium on all executions, is a vote of no confidence in the operations of Iran’s judicial system.
Not surprisingly the report has been condemned by Ayatollah Larijani. He has called it ‘repetitive and politically motivated’ and an affront to ‘Islamic laws’ because of the report’s stance against executions. There is no hint the judiciary will respond to the allegations in Mr. Shaheed’s report.
If this is the case it would seem a phrase used by Mr. Shaheed is probably accurate. This institution has a ‘culture of impunity’. It has got used to doing whatever it likes: hence the attitude toward President Ahmadinejad and the UN.
This is disturbing for foreign observers. It is frightening for ordinary Iranians, especially politicians, journalists, Christians and other religious minorities. For it is under the authority of this judiciary that Christians are arrested, interrogated, and imprisoned.
• Release of all held in prison unjustly
• End to arbitrary arrests
• Judiciary to win trust of ordinary Iranians through reform