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Gov’t to Propose Bill on Citizens’ Rights

Gov’t to Propose Bill on Citizens’ RightsGov’t to Propose Bill on Citizens’ Rights

President Hassan Rouhani said his government intends to seek parliamentary help to pass into law terms of the Charter on Citizens' Rights, which he unveiled last month.

The charter aims to raise public awareness on their rights and commits all government bodies to ensure their enforcement.

"Some of the citizens' rights [outlined in the charter] will be sent to the Majlis in the form of bills," the president was quoted as saying by IRNA on Thursday.

Rouhani's move is intended to fulfill one of his 2013 electoral pledges to clearly delineate, promote and defend the rights of citizens.

His 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.

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.

The charter declares that the citizens' private domain and life, residence, vehicles and personal items are protected from arbitrary interference, search and review without legal permission. It notes that 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.

***Culture of Tolerance

The government is bound to promote a culture of openness to and tolerance for constructive criticism.

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 up to the conclusion of judicial, police and administrative proceedings.

Citizens have the right to access public information available in state and private institutions that provide public services.

All organs and entities are required to regularly publish unclassified information required by society.

Rouhani has undertaken to appoint a special assistant tasked with supervising, coordinating and pursuing the appropriate implementation of the government's obligations under the charter.

The charter requires bodies affiliated to the executive branch to prepare plans for reforming the legal system within six months of the publication of the charter and submit the same to the special assistant.

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.

Elham Aminzadeh is the president's special assistant overseeing the compilation and implementation of the Charter on Citizens' Rights.

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