Legalizing the Murder of Civil Society looks at a bill coming up for a vote on the floor of Iran’s parliament that would completely change the legal procedures for registering and operating civil society organizations. Arseh Sevom is releasing a paper analyzing the impact of the proposed law. This bill,The Establishment and Supervision of NGOs, if ratified and executed as written, would mean the end of legally operating, independent civil society in Iran.

Essentially, it would set up an extralegal committee that would have the power both to issue permits for civil society organizations and to revoke those permits.

It seems that the discussion and vote on this bill is timed to precede the appointment of the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly in Iran (March 2011).

Here is a brief overview of what the new law will mean:

LEGALIZING THE MURDER OF CIVIL SOCIETY
Efforts to Legalize Militaristic Measures to Restrict Civil Society
Organizations
An Analysis of the Bill: The Establishment and Supervision of NGOs

The Parliament and the administration, with the collusion of the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Intelligence and the full cooperation of the judicial branch, seek to use this bill to legalize militaristic and security-driven interventions into the sphere of civil society. The new law will include the following measures:

  • Set-up a new committee to oversee the establishment and the activities of civil society organizations: the Supreme Committee will be overseen by the Ministry of Interior and include representatives of groups that are militaristic, security-oriented, and ideological, such as the paramilitary Basij. The Supreme Committee will have ultimate authority over the boards of directors of NGOs and even over local authorities;
  • The Supreme Committee will have the authority to provide registration permits as well as to dissolve organizations (both of which run counter to the provisions 584 and 585 of the State Trade Law);
  • Require that new organizations go through a comprehensive process of approval by the Ministry of Intelligence and the Supreme Committee;
  • Require that organizations already approved by the State Organization for Registration of Deeds and Properties re-register, forcing them to go through the new, more restrictive approval process. Any organization that does not will have its certification revoked and become officially outlawed by the order of the Supreme Committee;
  • Require approval of the Supreme Committee for all phases of participation and cooperation in governmental and nongovernmental projects, cooperation and contact with international organizations, agencies of the United Nations, participation in seminars and conferences, and educational sessions abroad, as well as assembling for marches and demonstrations.

Download the pdf of: Legalizing the Murder of Civil Society