Country Visit Report Working Group on Arbitrary Detention E/CN.4/2004/3/Add.2
para 65(1)
Full recommendation
1. On the reduction of the proliferation of judicial decision-making bodies. It should be
recalled that the Article 90 Parliamentary Commission highlighted, in receiving the Working
Group, “the injustices and inconsistencies resulting from the proliferation of judicial
decision-making bodies”. The revolutionary tribunals, one such group of bodies, as well as
the religious courts, should be abolished for the following reasons and in the following
Historically the revolutionary tribunals were established essentially to judge “collaborators”
with the former regime. There seems to be no rationale for their continued existence.
Moreover, since these tribunals have no constitutional basis, their absorption by the ordinary
courts would not require reform of the Constitution. A further reason: owing to their
jurisprudence, which is extremely restrictive of freedom of opinion and expression on the one
hand and of due process and the right to a fair trial on the other, they are responsible for
many of the cases of arbitrary detention for crimes of opinion, as noted by the Working
This reform would have the merit of reflecting recent developments: a first stage has just been
completed with the reform reinstating the prosecution service by merging prosecutors in the
revolutionary tribunals with those in the ordinary courts. From this standpoint this would
constitute a second stage in the current modernization of the system of justice sought by the
head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Hachemi Chahroudi, who, speaking before senior members
of the judiciary in early March 2003, stated that restructuring of the system of justice would
be his priority.
A further stage concerning religious courts could be completed in due course to further
reduce the proliferation of judicial decision-making bodies. The competence of these courts which also have no constitutional basis - would be transferred to the ordinary courts. There
are two reasons: according to the second division of the Tehran Special Clerical Court, these
courts were originally established to prosecute usurpers who, taking advantage of the early
confusion in the revolution, styled themselves “clerics”. As this problem is in the past, this
special competence no longer seems justified. These progressive abolitions would also have
the merit of restoring respect for article 20 of the Constitution, which embodies the principle
of the equality of all citizens before the law and thus before the system of justice.


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