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A Closer Look at the Judicial System of Iran with Emphasis on the Criminal Courts and Howness of their Practice

Nafiseh Eivazi

Abstract


The judiciary is an independent branch whose powers and responsibilities include administration and implementation of justice, supervision on the proper enforcement of the law, of the promotion of legitimate freedoms, protection of individual and public rights, providing due process for the resolution of judicial disputes, and investigation, prosecution, and punishment of criminals in accordance with the Islamic penal code. It is also incumbent upon the Judiciary branch to take adequate measures to prevent crime and to rehabilitate criminals. The highest Judicial authority is a Justice well versed in judiciary affairs and skillful in the administration of justice. He is appointed by the Leader for a period of five years. The Ministry of justice is the official authority to which all grievances and complaints are referred. The Minister of justice is in charge of administrating the Ministry as well as coordinating the relationship between the Judiciary branch and the legislative and executive branches. The courts are functionally classified according to their area of jurisdiction, civil or criminal, and according to the seriousness of the crime or the litigation, e.g., value of property under dispute or the level of punitive action involved. There are four civil courts: first level civil courts, second level civil courts, independent civil courts, and special civil courts. The latter attend to matters related to family laws and have jurisdiction over divorce and child custody. Criminal courts fall into two categories: first and second level criminal courts. The first level courts have jurisdiction over prosecution for felony charges, while the second level courts try cases that involve lighter punitive action. In addition to the regular courts, which hear criminal and civil suits, the judiciary encompasses clerical tribunals, revolutionary tribunals, and the Court of Administrative justice. Clerical courts entrusted with the task of trying and punishing misdeeds by the clergy. Revolutionary tribunals are charged with the responsibility of hearing and trying charges of terrorism and offenses against national security. The Court of Administrative justice under the supervision of the head of the judicial branch is authorized to investigate any complaints or objections by people with respect to government officials, organs, and statues. The Constitution also requires the establishment of a Supreme Court with the task of supervising the implementation of laws by the courts and ensuring uniformity in Judicial procedures.


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References


. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Article 32, available at www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/ir00000_.html

. Human Rights Committee (HRC), Concluding observations on the Islamic Republic of Iran, Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 40 of the Covenant, CCPR/C/IRN/CO/3, para. 6, available at bit.ly/1L0vjzY (HRC, CCPR/C/IRN/CO/3).

. During its first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2010, Iran initially accepted to take away recommendations to ratify Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). However, in June 2010, while rejecting the recommendations, the Iranian delegation announced that “Iran had no objection to join the CAT with only one caveat, which was the fact that CAT considers torture a legal punishment established by Iran’s legislation. However, the Government is studying the issue.” Following its second UPR in 2014, Iran rejected all recommendations calling on the country to ratify CAT, CEDAW and ICPPED.

. ISNA, Implementation of the Code of Criminal Procedure postponed with the request of the Head of the Judiciary, available at bit.ly/1meq1dD (accessed on 12 June 2015).

. The manner in which the entry into force of the new CCP was postponed did not fully conform with Iranian laws, which stipulate strict legal procedures to postpone the entry into force of adopted legislation: either parliament must enact legislation to specify the new date or the Supreme Leader must exercise his authority in the form of a state order (hokm-e hokoumati). A request by the Head of the Judiciary followed by approval by the Parliamentary Commission does not constitute a legal basis for postponing the entry into force of an adopted law. In the case of the CCP, the new date for its entry into force was eventually set out under another piece of legislation, the Code of Criminal Procedure for Armed Forces and for Electronic Procedure, but this was only signed into law on 8 November 2014, about two weeks after the original date the new CCP was supposed to enter into force.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1000/ijsmr.v1i1.106

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