New Bill Defies International Community and Iran’s own Commitments on Human Rights Protection

The UN Secretary General, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, the UN General Assembly, and the UN Human Rights Council have repeatedly called on Iran to revise its penal code to adhere to international human rights standards. In February 2010, the Iranian government accepted specific recommendations made under its Universal Periodic Review to ensure that its laws were in conformity with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which it is a party.

Nonetheless, today, Iran’s parliament is preparing to pass the “Islamic Penal Bill” – legislation that flouts its legal obligations under the ICCPR. The legislation endangers free expression and reinforces laws that violate the rights of Iranian citizens. The bill fails to prohibit stoning, lashing, and other cruel, inhumane, and degrading punishments; redress discriminatory laws; or, raise the age of majority for girls and boys. In a particularly worrisome clause, the bill expands punishment for “actions against national security”, a charge that has routinely been used to persecute dissidents.

Arseh Sevom and United4Iran urge you to send letters protesting the bill. Click here [link] to join the campaign.

A review of the bill (pdf in Persian) by Justice for Iran raises the following serious concerns:

  • Sexual relations outside of wedlock and extramarital affairs remain criminalized. The new bill does not proscribe stoning as a punishment and gives judges free reign to cite religious interpretations of the law, which allows them to continue using stoning and other harsh punishments. The bill states:
  • “The judge is duty bound to make all efforts to find the proper sentence in the codified laws. If he fails to do so he should issue the sentence in accordance with the valid Islamic sources or valid fatwas [ed: precedents based on interpretations of the law by recognized religious figures]. The judge cannot use the absence or insufficiency or brevity or conflict of the codified laws as an excuse to refuse to issue a verdict.”

  • This bill allows for the execution of minors. Only minors who can prove they lack the mental ability to understand their actions and the prohibitions will be exempt.
  • Several articles increase the severity of punishment for “action against national security.” This is one of the most commonly used charges against dissidents, human rights defenders, and members of the Baha’i community.
  • The new bill reinforces inequalities among citizens and fails to redress discriminatory laws against women and religious minorities.
  • The value of a woman’s testimony remains half of that of a man.
  • Girls will continue to be treated as adults from the age of nine and boys from the age of fifteen in the case of criminal activity.
  • Muslim women will continue to receive half the compensation for damages as Muslim men. Non-Muslim women will receive even less, with the damages awarded only a quarter of those awarded to a Muslim man.
  • Same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized. Punishments can range from one hundred lashes to execution.

To review the bill before the Iranian Parliament (in Persian), please click

Tell Iranian Parliamentarians to reject this anti-human rights bill! 
Send a letter today! >>