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Basic Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fardin Kharrazi
Senior Researcher in Law and Judicial Affairs

1. Preamble (Introduction to the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution including Formulation, Revision…)

2. Quality of Governance and Shape and Content of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as the Principle of Separation of Powers

3. Status of the Supreme Leader’s Powers and Duties

4. The Legislature (Status, Duties, and Powers of the Islamic Consultative Assembly and the Guardian Council)

5. The Executive (the President, Cabinet, Ministers)

6. The Judiciary (Independence, Duties, Powers and Organization)

7. The Armed Forces (the Army, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, the Police Force, Communication and Coordination among them)

8. The Supreme National Security Council (Objectives, Duties, organization)

9. The Expediency Council (Duties and Powers)

10. Councils (Role, Powers and Organization)

11. The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (Management, General Policy, Principles of Plans and Assessment)

12. Foreign Policy

13. Supervisory Bodies (General Inspection Organization, Court of Administrative Justice, Supreme Audit Court)

14. Rights of the Nation

Basic Rights in Islamic Republic of Iran

1. Introduction

Formulation of laws related to the basic rights in Iran within the framework of a Constitution dates back to the early 20th century. The first Iranian Constitution was drawn up following the victory of the Constitutional Revolution in 1906 and was subsequently revised in a number of stages. However, about 73 years later, following the triumph of the Islamic Revolution of Iran in February 1979, the old Constitution was abrogated. The new Constitution was drawn up by the Assembly of Experts less than a year after victory of the Islamic Revolution and was approved by the Iranian nation through a referendum which was held on December 2, 1979. Of course, ten years later, in view of the experiences gained in those years, and on the order of the Founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran Imam Khomeini, certain parts of the Islamic Republic’s Constitution were further revised and approved by people through a second referendum on July 27, 1989. The new Constitution entered into force with the positive vote of 97 percent of voters in the said referendum. The new Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran includes a preamble and 177 articles which have been compiled within fourteen chapters. All laws, regulations and executive procedures in Iran should come out of the same framework.

2. Quality of Governance and Shape and Content of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as the Principle of Separation of Powers

The basic rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran are based on two major pillars: divine and human. According to Article 56 of the Iranian Constitution: (1) “Absolute sovereignty of the universe and Man belongs to God, and it is He Who has made the human being master of its own social destiny. No one may deprive the human being of this God-given right, nor subordinate it to vested interests of some individual or group. The people are to exercise this God-given right in ways specified in the following articles.” Therefore, it will be easy to find out that:

A) According to the aforesaid Constitutional article, since the God has absolute rule over the world and humans, He is the main lawmaker that proclaims laws through religious teachings of which Islam is the last and the most comprehensive set. Its teachings have determined the course of human life and happiness and, therefore, “All laws and regulations pertaining to civil, penal, financial, economic, administrative, cultural, military, political and other spheres must be based on Islamic criteria.(2)”
On the other hand, since the Holy Quran has obligated all Muslims to obey the God, the Prophet of Islam Mohammad (PBUH) and his successors(3), the high command in the Islamic government has been entrusted to a just and pious jurist who is also knowledgeable about conditions of his time, courageous, with good management and decision-making powers(4). He is chosen by members of the Assembly of Experts who are in turn elected by people(5).

Therefore, since all laws and regulations should be based on the teachings of Islam and the leadership of the society is also entrusted to a prominent religious scholar specializing in the Islamic ordinance, the quality of the governance in Iran is Islamic.

B) The second pillar of governance in Iran is the will of people. God has given humans control over determining their social fate which means that Islam accepts the rule of people and the basic concept of democracy. This right is undeniable and cannot be monopolized by a person or a group. Therefore, all people who take charge of the management of the society are only selected through healthy and periodical elections.

Naturally, the right of people to self-determination calls for their practical and all-out participation in the management of their country’s affairs. That participation is carried out in different ways in Iran. They include:

The establishment of the Islamic Republic has been carried out through categorical vote of the Iranian nation (98.2 percent)(6)

The country’s affairs are run on the strength of people’s votes(7). And it is for people to take part directly and indirectly in running the country’s affairs by taking part in elections for the President, the parliament (which is called Majlis in Iran), the Assembly of Experts, urban and rural municipal councils, as well as by taking part in various referendums.

According to the Iranian Constitution “The establishment of parties, societies, political or professional guilds, as well as religious associations, Islamic or pertaining to one of the recognized religious minorities, is permitted provided they do not violate the principles of independence, freedom, and national unity, Islamic criteria and the basis of the Islamic Republic.”(8)

Summoning to what is good, commanding what is right and forbidding what is wrong is a universal and mutual duty: of the people in relation to one another, of the government in relation to the people, and of the people in relation to the government.(9)

In this way, enforcing people’s right to self-determination and participation in running the country’s affairs enjoys various dimensions: legal, political, social and guidance.

C) From the viewpoint of form, the Iranian government is Islamic Republic and consists of three powers, namely, the Legislature, the Judiciary, and the Executive, which function under the supervision of the Supreme Leader(10).

As a result, one may conclude that the Islamic Republic system is one of a kind and unique among all existing political systems of the world. On the one hand, it banks on the universal experiences with democracy in the modern world, while, on the other hand, being based on ideological structures of Islam and symbols of the Iranian culture.

3. Position, Powers and Duties of the Supreme Leader

A) Position: The Supreme Leader heads the pyramid of the political power structure in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Leader has two concurrent positions which are interrelated. On the one hand, he occupies the position of “Wali Amr” (Leader of the Ummah) as the substitute for the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and the last Imam of Shias who is currently in occultation and, therefore, symbolizes the divine aspect of the Islamic establishment and is the main ideologue of the Islamic system(11). On the other hand, he is the highest ranking official in the country who supervises the functions and performance of the Legislature, the Executive, and the Judiciary(12). Despite the above facts, the Iranian Constitution has stipulated that the Leader is equal to other persons in the country before the laws(13). That is, all laws that govern the ordinary people also apply to the Leader and this is clear depiction of the combination of divine and human aspects of governance in the system of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

B) Selection: Selection of the Leader is done in two phases. In the first phase, people elect out of themselves a group of prominent religious, scientific, and political personalities who come together through public election to form the Assembly of Experts. Then they choose the most qualified person out of prominent jurists with the qualifications specified in the Constitution as the Supreme Leader(14). Those qualifications include: 1. The scholarship required for giving ruling (fatwa) in various fields of Islamic law (fiqh); 2. The integrity and piety; and 3. Sound political and social vision, prudence, courage, administrative skills and adequate leadership abilities(15).

During more than three decades that have passed since victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, the Assembly of Experts has selected the Supreme Leader only once; that is, after the demise of the Founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Khomeini, when the Assembly of Experts chose Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei as the Leader.

C) The Leader’s Duties and Powers consist of the following: 1. Defining the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran after consultation with the State Expediency Council; 2. Supervision over the proper execution of the general policies of the Islamic establishment; 3. Issuing of decrees for national referendums; 4. Supreme command of the armed forces; 5. Declaration of war and peace, and mobilization of the armed forces; 6. Appointment, dismissal, and acceptance of the resignation of high-ranking political officials and top military commanders of the country including the jurists of the Guardian Council, the head of the Judiciary, the head of the state radio and television of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chief of the Joint Staffs, the Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, the high-ranking commanders of the armed forces and the law-enforcement forces; 7. Resolving differences among the three powers of the government and regulation of their relations when a dispute is going on among them; 8.Resolving complicated issues faced by the Islamic establishment; 9. Signing the President’s mandate after he is elected by the people; 10. Dismissing the President after the Supreme Court finds him guilty of violating his Constitutional duties, or following a vote of no confidence by the Islamic Consultative Assembly; and 11. Pardoning or commuting the sentences of convicts upon the proposal of the head of the Judiciary(16).

Therefore, the Supreme Leader governs and supervises the three branches of the government in addition to being the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. As a result, he is the highest ranking authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

4. The Legislature

A) Since the Iranian Constitution has clearly noted that the country’s affairs should be managed on the basis of public votes and legislation accounts for a large part of the country’s affairs, the Legislature is of high standing in the Iranian system of governance. Basically, there are two methods of legislation in Iran. The first method is an indirect method in which the representatives of the Islamic Consultative Assembly who are elected by people’s votes, pass laws and their decisions are notified for implementation to the Executive and the Judiciary(17). The second method is a direct one and is used for making a decision on very important economic, political, social, and cultural issues when passing laws is done through plebiscite(18). Of course, given constant and incessant presence and activity of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, the need for holding a referendum rarely arises. When it is necessary, a referendum is held after it is proposed by the President or 100 representatives of the Iranian Majlis (parliament) and is then approved by at least two-thirds of Majlis deputies(19) and ordered by the Supreme Leader(20).

B) The Iranian Legislature is a parliamentary system, but it has two separate parts: the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis) and the Guardian Council.

The Islamic Consultative Assembly is constituted by the people’s representatives elected directly and by secret ballot of people(21). The term of membership of the Iranian parliament is four years and elections for each term must take place before the end of the preceding term, so that the country is never left without a parliament(22). The Iranian parliament has two legislator and supervisory functions. Firstly, it may pass laws in all matters, within the jurisdiction defined by the Constitution(23). Secondly, it gives the vote of confidence to ministers and can also ask questions from or impeach the President, the Cabinet, and individual ministers(24); has the right to investigate and examine all the affairs of the country(25); and to supervise the functions and performance of the Executive.

Every deputy of the parliament is accountable to the entire nation and has the right to express his views on all affairs of the country, internal and external(26).

Therefore, the Iranian parliament and its representatives enjoy a prominent status in the Islamic Republic of Iran and their powers are similar to those conferred upon parliamentary political systems especially taking into account that under no circumstances, the head of the Executive can dissolve the parliament.

All decisions of the Islamic Consultative Assembly should be sent to the Guardian Council and the Guardian Council will have ten days in order to vet them for any possible contradiction with the criteria of Islam and the Constitution. If it finds the legislation incompatible, it will be returned to the parliament for review; otherwise the legislation will be considered passed(27).

The Guardian Council consists of 12 members: six Islamic jurists, who are persons of integrity (just) and well aware of the present needs and issues of the day who are appointed by the Supreme Leader and six lawyers, who are elected by the Islamic Consultative Assembly from among Muslim lawyers nominated and proposed by the head of the Judiciary(28). In addition to scrutinizing Majlis decisions and giving its opinion on those decisions, the Guardian Council also shoulders two more duties which include the right to interpretation of the Constitution when the need arises(29) and responsibility for supervising the elections of the President, members of the Assembly of Experts, the Islamic Consultative Assembly, and direct recourse to people’s opinion through referendum(30).

5. The Executive

A) The Islamic Republic of Iran is similar to presidential systems in that the President is directly elected by the people and, on the other hand, is similar to parliamentary systems because ministers are proposed by the President to the parliament in order to get a vote of confidence from the parliament deputies. Thereafter, Majlis is entitled to question and impeach them and even revoke its vote of confidence. As a result, the political system in the Islamic Republic of Iran can be considered half presidential and half parliamentary.

B) The Iranian Executive power has two parts. Part of the executive power has been directly delegated to the Supreme Leader which was mentioned under No. 3 above. Another part of those powers is special to the President and Cabinet ministers(31).

After the Supreme Leader, the President is the country’s highest ranking official and is responsible for implementing the Constitution and presiding over the Executive, except in matters which are directly related to the Supreme Leader(32). The President is elected for a four-year term by the direct vote of the people. He may be re-elected only once for a second successive term(33). The President shoulders many responsibilities and therefore he may appoint deputies for the execution of his constitutional duties, including the first vice president who usually takes charge, after authorization by the President, of managing the Cabinet’s affairs and is also responsible for coordination among other vice presidents(34).

The President is accountable to the people, the Leader, and the Islamic Consultative Assembly within the authority and responsibilities vested in him by the Constitution and ordinary laws(35). The Judiciary can also condemn the President for any possible violation of laws. Therefore, in parallel to vast powers invested in the Iranian President as head of the Executive, he is also carefully watched by a multifaceted supervisory mechanism which has been worked out to ensure his compliance with the laws.

C) The Cabinet or board of ministers is a legal entity comprising the President (or the first vice president) and ministers from various ministries which coordinates decisions made by different ministries by taking necessary measures. The President must obtain a vote of confidence from the parliament for the Cabinet after its formation. During his incumbency, he may also seek such a vote of confidence for the Cabinet from the parliament on important and controversial issues(36). The Islamic Consultative Assembly may also interpellate the ministerial Cabinet or an individual minister whenever it is deemed necessary after at least 10 deputies sign the relevant motion(37). The ministerial Cabinet or the interpellated minister must be present in the Parliament within ten days after the tabling of the interpellation in order to respond to it and seek a vote of confidence. If the parliament refrains from giving its vote of confidence, the Cabinet, or the minister interpellated, will be dismissed and the President will have to introduce new ministers to the parliament(38).

D) Ministers: Ministers for various ministries are introduced by the President to the parliament for a vote of confidence. Every minister has many legal duties and powers the most important of which is suitable management of their relevant ministries from political, technical, administrative, and financial viewpoints. In addition, every minister is also member of a legal entity which is called the ministerial Cabinet and in matters approved by the Cabinet as a whole he is also accountable for the actions of the others(39).

In addition, every minister is also head of organizations and subsidiary companies which are affiliated to his ministry and will be held accountable to the President and the parliament with regard to all affairs within his powers. Like what it does to the whole Cabinet, the parliament can also interpellate and impeach individual ministers or announce a no-confidence vote on any one of them.

6. The Judiciary

A) The Judiciary is one of three main and independent powers in the Iranian government which has an important position in the system of government. In line with its duty to support personal and social rights and realize justice in the society, it has been entrusted with the following duties(40):

Investigation and passing judgment in relation to people’s grievances, violations, and complaints; resolution of litigation; settling of disputes; and deciding on such matters of personal status as are specified by law;

Restoring public rights, promoting justice and legitimate freedoms;

Supervising the proper enforcement of laws;

Discovering crimes as well as prosecution and penalization of criminals;

Taking suitable measures for the prevention of crime and rehabilitation of criminals.

B) Since fulfilling duties of the Judiciary correctly, fairly, and without prejudice toward anybody depends on the full independence of this power, this issue has been taken into account in Iran's basic rights from two angles:

Organizational independence: To guarantee the independence of the Judiciary, firstly, the head of the Judiciary is directly appointed by the Supreme Leader(41). Secondly, administrative and employment affairs of the judiciary are also independent from the other two powers(42). Thirdly, judicial cases are opened and closed within the Judiciary and courts hand down their rulings with complete independence. Fourthly, the General Inspection Organization and the Court of Administrative Justice supervise the functions and performance of the Executive as supervisory arms of the Judiciary.

Independence of the judges: When hearing a litigation or handing down a verdict, the judges will merely act upon the law and their own sound assessment away from any kind of internal or external pressures(43).

C) The highest ranking official of the Iranian Judiciary is head of the Judiciary who is responsible for all judicial, administrative and executive affairs of the judicial power. The Leader shall appoint a mujtahid, possessing integrity and administrative and problem-solving abilities, and well-versed in judicial affairs as the head of the Judiciary for a period of five years(44).

On the other hand, the Minister of Justice is responsible for all matters concerning the Judiciary’s relations with the Executive and the Legislature. He will be elected from among individuals proposed to the President by the head of the Judiciary and will be then introduced to the Islamic Consultative Assembly for a vote of confidence(45). Head of the Judiciary can delegate his financial and administrative powers as well as employment of the judicial staff (save for the judges) to the Minister of Justice.

The judicial authority to hear people’s grievances and complaints is public courts which have been divided into civil and criminal courts with branches throughout the country.

In addition to public courts, there are Islamic Revolution courts at each and every provincial center which are competent to hear the following cases: crimes against domestic and foreign security of the Islamic Republic, taking armed action against the Islamic establishment (muhariba), disseminating corruption on the Earth, insulting the Founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran Imam Khomeini and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, conspiring against the Islamic Republic, armed action against the Islamic establishment, assassination and destruction of institutes, espionage, crimes related to smuggling and drug trafficking and some other crimes(46).

Also, to guarantee supervision over correct implementation of laws by the courts and to ensure uniformity of judicial procedures, a high-ranking judicial institution called the Supreme Court will be established under supervision of head of the Judiciary. The Chief of the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor General must be mujtahids, possessing integrity and well versed in judicial matters. They will be nominated by the Head of the Judiciary for a period of five years, in consultation with the judges of the Supreme Court(47).

D) A prosecutor’s office should exist in parallel to every branch of a criminal public court which is tasked with finding crime, prosecuting criminals, filing lawsuits, indicting the accused, and enforcing the verdict once it has been handed down through the court’s decision. A prosecutor tops such an office and he is usually provided with necessary number of deputies, assistants, interrogators, and the relevant administrative system. The attorney general tops the hierarchy of prosecutors. He is chosen by the head of the Judiciary out of prominent jurists and has good knowledge of judicial affairs.

7. The Armed Forces

The armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran consist of three main parts; that is, the Army, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and the police and disciplinary forces which are collectively under the supreme command of the Leader(48).

A) The Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for guarding the independence and territorial integrity of the country(49). The Army is the combination of the Joint Chiefs of Staff plus ground, air, and naval forces and all organizations affiliated to them(50).

B) The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps was founded in the early days after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in order to maintain its role of guarding the Islamic Revolution and its achievements(51). It consists of Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, representative office of the Supreme Leader in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, as well as the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ intelligence, ground forces, air force, navy, Basij Resistance Force, Quds Force, and related organizations(52).

C) The police force is duty-bound to maintain order and security, protect the personal welfare, and also to guard the achievements of the Islamic Revolution of Iran(53). The police force is affiliated to the Interior Ministry and its commander is appointed by the Supreme Leader.

D) The Iranian Constitution has foreseen that duties of these three forces should be totally differentiated and distinction should be made by passing laws in order to prevent overlap among their duties while emphasizing on cooperation and coordination among them(54).

E) In fact, delegating the supreme command of the armed forces to the Leader has caused the powers of the President in the Islamic Republic of Iran to be less than his counterparts in purely Presidential systems such as the United States of America. At the same time, support and logistics of the police and armed forces has been naturally left to the Cabinet and the President. The Supreme National Security Council has also been predicted by the Constitution in order to coordinate such affairs.

8. Supreme National Security Council

A) In view of the high importance of the national security which has various military, intelligence, political, economic, social and cultural dimensions, the Iranian Constitution has envisaged a council whose members are chosen from among high-ranking authorities with the President at its head to fulfill the following duties(55):

Determine the defense and national security policies of the country within the framework of the general policies determined by the Leader;

Coordinate political, intelligence, social, cultural, and economic activities in accordance with the general defense and security plans; and

Utilize the material and non-material resources of the country to confront internal and external threats.

B) Members of the Supreme National Security Council include:

the heads of three branches of the government;

the Chief of Joint Staffs of the Armed Forces;

the official responsible for planning and budgeting affairs in the government;

two representatives appointed by the Leader;

the ministers of foreign affairs, interior, and intelligence;

one of the ministers, in accordance with the relevance of a case, and the highest ranking official of the Armed Forces and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.

The important point here is that the majority of Supreme National Security Council’s members, as the above configuration shows, do not come from the military and the number of military members in the composition of the Supreme National Security Council is a minority which is a very important point directly related to general approach of the council.

C) The Supreme National Security Council shall, commensurate with its duties, form subsidiary councils such as the Defense Council and State Security Council. Each subsidiary council will be presided over by the President or a member of the Supreme National Security Council who is appointed by the President.

D) The decisions of the Supreme National Security Council shall be effective and binding after approval by the Supreme Leader.

9. The Expediency Council

The Expediency Council is one of the institutions which are under direct supervision of the Supreme Leader and whose members are appointed by the Leader. The Iranian Constitution has considered the following four duties for the Expediency Council:

In cases when a bill approved by the Islamic Consultative Assembly is considered contrary to principles of Sharia law or the Constitution and when parliament is unable to secure the satisfaction of the Guardian Council on the basis of the national expediency and insists on its approval, the subject of dispute is referred to the Expediency Council(57). In such cases, the arbitration of the Expediency Council and its decision will be considered final, binding and as authentic as law;

Providing consultation to the Supreme Leader on the formulation of general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran(58);

Helping the Leader in solving those problems facing the Islamic establishment which cannot be solved through ordinary means(59);

Providing consultation to the Supreme Leader on other matters of interest(60).

The Expediency Council consists of specialized committees in various fields which include: 1. Scientific, Cultural, and Social Committee; 2. Political, Defense and Security Committee; 3. Infrastructural Affairs and Production Committee; 4; Macroeconomy, Commerce and Administrative Committee; and
5. Legal and Judicial Committee.

The Expediency Council also has a secretariat whose task is to coordinate various committees, and to take care of communications and financial and administrative affairs.

The Expediency Council is one of innovative institutions established by the Islamic Republic of Iran whose parallel is rarely seen in other political systems of the world.

10. Councils

After elaborating people’s role in the system of government, the Iranian Constitution has introduced various kinds of consultative bodies including various councils as a pillar of decision-making and management of the country’s affairs(61). The Constitution has noted that “in order to expedite social, economic, public health, cultural, educational and development programs and facilitate other public welfare affairs through the people’s participation and in accordance with the local needs, the administration of each village, division, city, town, and province will be supervised by a local council whose members are elected by local people(62).” Governors, mayors, district managers, and other state officials will be obliged to respect and comply with their decisions (made within their legal powers)(63).

In fact, the Iranian people implement their determination for management of large-scale affairs of the country by electing the President, and deputies of the Islamic Consultative Assembly. Through councils, however, they do the same with regard to local affairs.

The councils have their own hierarchy which is topped by the Supreme Council of the Provinces and every council is held accountable before the higher council(64). Of course, their decisions should not be contrary to principles of Islam and the country’s laws and should not be outside their powers. Otherwise, such decisions will be made null and void by the higher council.

The Supreme Council of the Provinces is entitled within the scope of its powers to prepare plans and submit them to the Islamic Consultative Assembly either directly, or by the means of the Executive(65).

In addition to local councils and in order to ensure cooperation in planning and coordination in expediting matters, special councils have been formed, consisting of representatives of workers, peasants, other employees and managers of production as well as industrial and agricultural units to prepare plans and facilitate coordination for the progress of various affairs related to those units(66).

11. The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (State Radio and Television)

A) Given the importance of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting as the country's sole national medium whose programs cover all sections of the government and the society, it cannot be affiliated to any of the three powers. Therefore, the appointment and dismissal of the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) is a power of the Supreme Leader(67). It follows that head of the IRIB is under direct supervision of the Leader. Also, a council consisting of two representatives each from the President, the Head of the Judiciary and the Islamic Parliament of Iran will supervise this organization(68).

Therefore, the organization is under supervision of two authorities: the Supreme Leader, on the one hand, and heads of three powers, on the other hand. Since head of the organization is appointed by the Supreme Leader and is accountable to him, it follows that supervision of the Supreme Leader over the IRIB is obligatory while supervision of the aforesaid council is informative.

B) The general principle governing IRIB’s programs is that they should conform to the Iranian Constitution and promote freedom of expression and thinking with due care for the observance of Islamic principles and country’s interests(69). In pursuit of this general principle, the following principles have been taken as the basis of IRIB’s programs(70):

1. Predominance of Islam on all programs and a ban on airing programs which are contrary to Islamic norms;

2. The spirit of the Islamic Revolution and the Constitution which is embodied in the famous motto of “Independence, Freedom, Islamic Republic,” should govern all IRIB’s programs;

3. Realizing the ideas of the Supreme Leader, as the supreme Muslim jurist, in all aspects of TV programs;

4. Providing grounds for achieving self-sufficiency and implementation of the country’s independent policies in all political, economic, military and cultural fields;

5. Helping to promote awareness and spiritual growth in the society in various fields as a public university;

6. Venerating human dignity of individuals and preventing humiliation of all persons; 

7. Reflecting the life and situation of all Iranian ethnic groups and social classes and focusing on their demands, needs and problems;

8. Accepting constructive criticism and views from people and establishment of mutual relationship with the society;

9. Promoting unity, friendship and solidarity in society and bolstering the spirit of hope in addition to paying due attention to people’s spiritual needs.

12. Foreign Policy

A) The Iranian Constitution says the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is based on five main pillars(71):

Rejection of all forms of domination, both the assertion of it and submission to it;

Protecting the country’s all-round independence and territorial integrity;

Defending the rights of all Muslims;

non-alignment with hegemonic powers; and

maintaining peaceful relations with all non-belligerent States.

B) Any kind of contract or agreement resulting in foreign control of the country’s natural resources, economy, army, culture, and other aspects of national life, is forbidden(72). As a result, all international treaties, protocols, contracts, and agreements must be approved by the Islamic Consultative Assembly(73) before entering into force after being signed by the President(74). Also, taking or granting of loans or grants-in-aid, domestic or foreign, by the government must be with the approval of the Islamic Consultative Assembly(75). The granting of concessions to foreigners, whether for the establishment of companies or institutions dealing with commerce, industry, agriculture, services or mineral extraction, is absolutely forbidden(76). In addition, the establishment of any kind of foreign military base in Iran, even for peaceful purposes, is forbidden(77).

C) The Islamic Republic of Iran considers realization of human felicity throughout human society as its most important ideal and considers independence, freedom, and the rule of justice and Truth to be the right of all people of the world. Accordingly, whilst scrupulously refraining from all forms of interference in the internal affairs of other nations, it supports the struggles of the oppressed against the arrogant powers for their rights in every corner of the globe(78).

In fact, the goals of the Islamic Republic of Iran's foreign policy can be divided into two categories. The first category includes realistic goals which are in line with meeting the country’s national interests which were mentioned in paragraph B above. The second group of goals contains idealistic goals mentioned in paragraph C above. Therefore, the conduct of the Islamic Republic of Iran in its foreign policy is determined by a combination of these two groups of goals.

13. Supervisory Institutions (Article 90 of the Constitution Committee of the Parliament, Supreme Audit Court, Court of Administrative Justice, and General Inspection Organization)

The Islamic Republic of Iran is sui generis among various political systems of the world in view of the existence of numerous supervisory mechanisms. To ensure scrupulous supervision over the performance and functions of state-run organizations, the Iranian Constitution has considered four supervisory institutions two of which are related to the Legislature and the other two institutions are related to the Judiciary.

A) According to Article 90 of the Constitution, “Complaints concerning the performance of the Parliament, or the Executive, or the Judiciary, may be forwarded by complainants in writing to the Islamic Consultative Assembly. The parliament must investigate these complaints and give a satisfactory reply. When the complaint relates to the Executive or the Judiciary, the parliament must demand a proper investigation and an adequate explanation from them, and announce the results within a reasonable time. When the subject of the complaint is of public interest, the reply must be made public.(79)” To implement this Constitutional article, a committee has been established in the Iranian parliament known as Article 90 of the Constitution Committee which shoulders the aforesaid responsibilities(80).

B) Since the Iranian government’s annual budget should be approved by the parliament, the Constitution has envisaged an organization called Supreme Audit Court which functions under the direct supervision of the Islamic Consultative Assembly(81). The Supreme Audit Court, in accordance with the procedure specified by law, inspects and audits all the accounts of the ministries, government institutions and companies as well as other organizations that draw in any way on the general budget of the country, to ensure that no expenditure exceeds approved credits and that all sums are spent for their specified purposes. The Supreme Audit Court will collect all relevant accounts, documents, and records in accordance with law and submit an annual budget clearance report, along with relevant documents and its own comments, to the Islamic Consultative Assembly(82).

C) The Court of Administrative Justice has been established under the supervision of the head of the Judiciary in order to investigate the complaints, grievances, and objections of the people in respect of government officials, organs, and statutes in order to restore their rights(83). This organization has many branches and the head of the first branch is head of the Court of Administrative Justice as well. In addition, there are a number of appeals branches with every branch consisting of a head and two advisors.

D) The General Inspection Organization has been established under the direct supervision of the head of the Judiciary, in accordance with the supervisory rights of the Judiciary over the conduction of affairs and correct implementation of laws by the government’s administrative organs(84). The General Inspection Organization constantly inspects all state-run organizations and other those affiliated to the government in any way and reports administrative and financial deficiencies to head of the Judiciary, the President, Majlis speaker, and heads of relevant organizations. Whenever a crime has happened which has a judicial aspect to it, the organization refers the case along with relevant documents to a competent court.

In this way, the functions and performance of the Executive in Iran is under three types of constant supervision. The first type of supervision is an administrative one which is usually exercised in any ministry or organization by a superior official with regard to their subordinates according to supervisory hierarchy and using intra-organizational means of inspection and supervision. The second type is judicial supervision through the General Inspection Organization, the Court of Administrative Justice, and public courts. The third type is a parliamentary supervision over the Executive through the Supreme Audit Court and Article 90 of the Constitution Committee.

14. Rights of the Nation

The third chapter of the Iranian Constitution is about the rights of the Iranian nation and has guaranteed respect for the most basic rights of the Iranian people within framework of 24 articles (from article 19 to article 42). They include:

All the people of Iran, regardless of ethnic group or tribe, enjoy equal rights; color, race, language and the like do not bestow any privilege to anybody(85). All citizens of the country, men and women, enjoy equal protection of the law as well all human, political, economic, social and cultural rights in conformity with Islamic criteria(86). The Executive has been especially obligated to consider and ensure a certain set of rights and privileges for women, including support for women during pregnancy and child rearing; and provision of special insurance for widows, aged women, and women without support and so forth(87).

Inquisition, interception of letters as well as recording and disclosure of telephone conversations, is strictly forbidden(88).

Publications and the press have freedom of expression(89); the formation of parties, societies, political or professional guilds, and religious associations in addition to public rallies and demonstrations are allowed for all people, even religious minorities, provided that they do not violate the principles of Islam and public order(90).

The rights to choose a suitable occupation, social security, as well as to have free education, health and housing have been recognized as inalienable rights of every Iranian person and family and the government is duty-bound to provide them(91).

No one may be arrested, punished, or sent into exile except by the order of and in accordance with the procedure laid down by law, and all forms of torture as well as insult to the accused and detainees is absolutely forbidden(92).

Litigation is undeniable right of all people and every person has the right to choose a lawyer. If they cannot afford a lawyer, the courts should provide the defendant with a counsel.

Iranian citizenship is the indisputable right of every Iranian, and the government cannot withdraw citizenship from any Iranian(93).

Bibliography and Endnotes

1. Article 56 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
2. Article 4 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
3. The Quran; Chapter Nisa, Verse 59: “O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you.”
4. Article 5 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
5. Article 107 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
6. Article 1 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
7. Article 6 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
8. Article 26 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
9. Article 8 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
10. Article 57 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
11. Article 5 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
12. Article 57 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
13. Under Article 107 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
14. Article 107 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
15. Article 109 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
16. Article 110 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
17. Article 58 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
18. Article 59 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
19. Article 36 of the Referendum Act of the Islamic Republic of Iran approved on June 25, 1989
20. Para. 3, Article 110 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
21. Article 62 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
22. Article 63 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
23. Article 71 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
24. Articles 87, 88, and 89 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
25. Article 76 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
26. Article 84 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
27. Article 94 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
28. Article 91 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
29. Article 98 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
30. Article 99 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
31. Article 60 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
32. Article 113 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
33. Article 114 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
34. Article 124 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
35. Article 122 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
36. Article 87 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
37. Article 89 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
38. Ibid.
39. Article 137 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
40. Article 156 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
41. Article 157 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
42. Para. 3, Article 158 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
43. Article 166 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
44. Article 157 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
45. Article 160 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
46. Article 5 of the Public and Revolutionary Courts Establishment Act
47. Articles 161 and 162 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
48. Para. 4, Article 110 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
49. Article 143 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
50. Article 3 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Army Act
51. Article 150 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
52. Article 3 of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ Employment Act approved on October 13, 1991
53. Article 3 of the Islamic Republic of Iran Police Act approved on July 18, 1990
54. Part of Article 150 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
55. Article 176 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
56. Ibid.
57. Article 112 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
58. Para. 1, Article 110 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
59. Para. 8, Article 110 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
60. Article 112 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
61. Article 7 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
62. Article 100 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
63. Article 103 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
64. Article 12 of Councils Establishment Act
65. Article 102 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
66. Article 104 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
67. Article 175 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
68. Ibid.
69. Ibid.
70. Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting’s General Policy and Principles of Programs Act approved on July 8, 1982
71. Article 152 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
72. Article 153 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
73. Article 77 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
74. Article 124 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
75. Article 80 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
76. Article 81 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
77. Article 146 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
78. Article 154 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
79. Article 90 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
80. Article 3 of Internal Statute of the Islamic Consultative Assembly
81. Article 54 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
82. Article 55 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
83. Article 173 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
84. Article 174 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
85. Article 19 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
86. Article 20 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
87. Article 21 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
88. Articles 23 and 25 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
89. Article 24 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
90. Articles 26 and 27 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
91. Articles 28, 29, 30, and 31 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
92. Articles 32, 33, 36, 38, and 39 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution
93. Article 41 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution

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