Guilty until proven innocent in Tehran

The notion that someone is innocent until proven guilty is a guiding light for any country which places the right to a fair trial at the top of its priorities. Even in Western states which do value the ideal of a fair trial, people are sometimes arrested, or worse, based on the fact that they were presumed guilty. But usually, somewhere down the line, during the trial or even in the aftermath, the ideal of the fair trial comes back to center stage.

In Tehran, the notion of a fair trial is more akin to a fairy tale. “Criminals” are arrested, interrogated and tried based on the supposition that they are guilty and have to prove their innocence. In many cases, these “criminals” are summoned to court, without knowing why, are accused of crimes without being shown the evidence, are forbidden to meet their lawyers or have incompetent lawyers chosen for them. Why? Because for these “criminals”, their “crimes” are distinctly political in nature and “political criminals” in Iran can forget about a fair trial.

Of course, Iranian law and the Iranian constitution distinctly outline that anyone suspected of a crime has the right to a fair trial. But in Iran, the law is second to the needs of the regime and if someone criticizes the regime in any way, the regime can abuse the law under vague charges such as “spreading propaganda”, “national security” or “insulting the regime/the Supreme Leader/Islam/the Prophet” and the ominous Moharabeh (enmity against God)…all charges which can place an Iranian behind bars or strung from the gallows without a fair trial.

Here are a few examples which highlight the problem of striving for a fair trial in Iran:

Of course, these cases represent only a small fraction of the victims of unfair trials in Iran. The list seems endless but in the end the similarities are very clear: political prisoners, ie: people who criticize or oppose the regime in any way, can be arrested without being told of the charges they are under, can be interrogated and tortured for an unlimited time, can be denied access to lawyers, can be held incommunicado from their families and loved ones and will be forced to prove their innocence or profess their “regret” in order to gain their freedom.

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6 thoughts on “Guilty until proven innocent in Tehran

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