Iranian Gov’t Moves to Defend Citizens’ Rights
President Hassan Rouhani unveiled the final version of the Charter on Citizens' Rights in a ceremony on Monday, which is expected to raise public awareness on their rights and commits all government bodies to ensure their enforcement.
Rouhani's move is intended to fulfill one of his 2013 electoral pledges to clearly delineate, promote and defend the rights of citizens.
The government had proposed the initial draft of the charter months after taking office and it was finalized after consulting some 200 lawmakers and academics in various fields.
In his speech at the unveiling ceremony, Rouhani described the charter as "a big step toward effectively upholding the Constitution", his official website reported.
Elham Aminzadeh, special assistant to the president on citizens' rights, said the charter "draws a clear perspective of the rights of citizens, which are dispersed in a large number of laws, and opens the door for them to be acquainted clearly with their political, legal, economic, cultural and social rights."
The document comprises 120 articles, covering various areas of citizens' rights, including fair trial, economic and property rights, economic transparency, privacy, freedom of expression, association, assembly and demonstration, as well as access to information, cyberspace and education.
It says the citizens' private domain and life, residence, vehicles and personal items are protected from arbitrary interference, search and review without legal permission and searching, collecting, processing, using and revealing citizens' correspondence, whether electronic or non-electronic, and their personal information and data are banned, unless legally authorized.
Citizens have the right to freedom of thought. Inquisition is prohibited and no one can be persecuted for holding a particular opinion.
Every citizen has the right to freely seek, receive and publish views and information pertaining to various issues, using any means of communication and the government shall, based on the law, guarantee freedom of speech and expression, especially in the mass media, cyberspace, including in newspapers, magazines, books, cinema, radio and television, social networks and the likes.
It is prohibited to insult, degrade or cause hatred against ethnic groups and followers of other faiths and creeds, as well as social and political groups.
Citizens enjoy the right to criticize or voice dissatisfaction with the performance of the establishment and public institutions, and offer them advice and invite them to observe the general good.
The government is bound to promote a culture of openness to and tolerance for constructive criticism.
Every citizen is free to express their opinion about any issue in any kind of intellectual, literary and artistic form without violating other people's rights.
All citizens are entitled to have access to all judicial, police, administrative and regulatory authorities, and no one may be denied such a right. They have the right to freely choose a defense lawyer from the outset to the conclusion of judicial, police and administrative proceedings.
When citizens do not have the ability or means to take advantage of this right, the government is obligated to provide the facilities for citizens to have a lawyer.
Any type of physical or mental torture to obtain information or a forced confession is a violation of citizens' rights and subject to prosecution, and any such confession lacks value and credibility.
Citizens have the right to access public information available in public institutions and private institutions that provide public services.
All organs and entities are required to regularly publish unclassified information required by society.
Rouhani's special assistant is tasked with supervising, coordinating and pursuing the appropriate implementation of the government's obligations under the charter.
She will also be responsible for, among others, proposing plans and guidelines for the full implementation of the charter.
The charter requires bodies affiliated to the executive branch to prepare the plan for reforming and developing the legal system within six months from the date of the publication of the charter and submit the same to the special assistant.
These bodies should present an annual report on their progress, challenges, barriers and proposed solutions for the promotion and realization of citizens' rights within the scope of their responsibility.
The ministries of Education; Science, Research and Technology; and Health and Medical Education shall make arrangements to best familiarize school and university students with citizens' rights.
The president will report to the people annually on the progress and approaches to overcome obstacles that impede the realization of citizens' rights, and shall update the charter as required.