Rouhani has promised to promote human rights in Iran, including freedom of speech, the press and assembly, on numerous occasions since he first ran for office in 2013, but he never actually intended to protect these rights, which is why it is not surprising that he has failed.
In actual fact, human rights in Iran have actually gotten worse under Rouhani, which can be seen most prominently in recent changes in the judiciary system that target Iranian citizens and non-citizens alike, who are detained in Iran.
Back in June, the judiciary released a list of just 20 lawyers who are approved by the Regime to represent detainees accused of political crimes – often dressed up as national security by the mullahs. This is a violation of the Iranian constitution which enshrines the right of defendants to choose their own lawyer.
This should strike fear into the heart of anyone that believes in fair trials and the rule of law. How can we expect defence lawyers personally selected by the Iranian Regime to adequately defend political prisoners? Simply, we can’t.
Dr Majid Rafizadeh wrote: “The right to have access to one’s chosen lawyer is one of the most basic rights guaranteed by international law. It is absurd that a country with a population of about 80 million is only assigned 20 lawyers by the regime to represent those citizens who are accused of “national security” or “political” crimes. This means that tens of thousands of others who practice law in Tehran are automatically excluded and banned. It also should not be surprising to human rights organizations and defenders that the list of 20 lawyers does not include any women or a known human rights lawyer. One of the lawyers on the list is Abdolreza Mohabbati, who served as the regime’s assistant prosecutor.”
Granted, detainees held on political charges before Rouhani took office often had problems finding a lawyer to represent them because the Regime would often target the lawyers, but the defendants at least had the chance at a defence.
Back then, there were still some lawyers, notably Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, and Nasrin Sotoudeh, who would take on the cases of political dissidents despite the Regime’s attacks.
Ebadi now lives in London to evade the Regime’s pressure, but her Nobel Peace Prize was confiscated by the mullahs. Sotoudeh was arrested in Iran and will now serve five years in Evin Prison.
This removal of rights will only make it easier for the Regime to bring political charges against people and send them to prison or to the noose.
Dr Majid Rafizadeh wrote: “Based on the recent changes, the public is also deprived of access to information pertaining to the case. Then the regime can intimidate, torture, obtain forced confessions, and more easily sentence the defendant to imprisonment or execution. This is a major blow to the legal profession and human rights… While president Rouhani continues to promise that he will promote people’s rights, his administration appears totally silent as Iran’s judicial system rapidly erodes the basic human rights of its population, as well as possibly those of non-Iranian citizens detained in Iran.”