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21/08/2022 Advocacy, Human Rights Committee, Research, Submissions, Treaty Bodies

Joint Submission: Fair Trial, Due Process & Iran’s Compliance with the ICCPR

A submission from:

The Abdorrahman Boroumand Center (ABC)
Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRANA)
Impact Iran &
Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC)

provided to the Human Rights Committee in conjunction with its upcoming 136th session, which will take place between October 10 and November 4 2022. Read the submission’s introduction below, and find the full document here.

The 1979 Islamic Revolution set in motion a radical transformation of Iran’s justice system with the introduction of Shari’a law and the setting up of ad-hoc revolutionary tribunals – still in place today – that did away with the presumption of innocence and the right to defense.[1] Those accused were detained in inhuman conditions in overcrowded prisons, deprived of minimum treatment standards, and exposed to long solitary confinement and torture to coerce self-incriminating confessions. These courts summarily tried thousands of people, denying defendants the right to counsel and the right to appeal. Thousands were executed following these summary trials and behind closed doors.

Today, despite some improvements, a severe due process crisis remains one of the most pernicious legacies of post-revolutionary justice and these most basic concepts of justice have yet to be properly integrated into Iran’s judicial culture.[2] Denial of access to legal counsel during interrogation, coerced confessions as sole evidence, used as the basis for sentencing in criminal trials are examples of serious violations of the right to a fair trial and due process that remain.  In light of the high number of criminalized acts (around 2,600,[3] close to 200 of which carry the death penalty) and the routine practice of mass arrests, these violations of the ICCPR  impact millions of people, citizens and non-citizens, and need to be addressed urgently.


[2] “The main problem of our judiciary is that it follows the style of the unhealthy Western judiciary system. In other words, once the file has been transferred from the police to the judiciary, there is the process of appointing a lawyer, followed by the lawyer’s advice to the offender to retract the frank recorded confessions made in the initial stages and to accuse the police of torture, and, subsequently, months of waiting for the trial, then the preliminary verdict, followed by the appeal court stage, and, ultimately, after several months, some feeble verdict is issued. Not only does this fail to act as a deterrent, but it serves to make the thugs and hooligans even more audacious.” Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, source of emulation, July 22, 2011

[3] According to Majles Deputy Abolfazl Abutorabi, member of the Legal and Judicial Commission of the Majles (Mizan Online, October 11, 2018