Article 27 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran6 ostensibly protects the right to
freedom of peaceful assembly, so long as it is not “in violation of the fundamental principles of
Islam”. There is no clear definition or criteria that define what constitutes “fundamental
principles of Islam”, granting the State significant discretion to restrict the right of peaceful
assembly when it is considered to be in violation of these fundamental principles. Similar
restrictions can also be found under Article 2 of the Law on Political Crimes, adopted in 2016,
which stipulates that participation in an unauthorised assembly, even if it is peaceful, can
effectively be considered a political offence.7
Similarly, the right to freedom of expression, recognised under Article 24 of the Constitution, is
restricted if it is “deemed harmful to the principles of Islam or the rights of the public”. Article
40 of the Constitution further allows for restrictions of rights, including peaceful assembly, if
their exercise is deemed “injurious to others” or “detrimental to public interests”. Similar
provisions restrict the right to freedom of expression online through the criminalisation of
vaguely worded offences such as the “dissemination of lies” and what is deemed to offend
“public morality and chastity”.8 The 1986 Press Law and its subsequent amendments also
significantly obstruct the right to freedom of expression, particularly for the media.9 The law
mentions that publications should “duly [observe] Islamic criteria and the best interests of the
community”. It also provides twelve conditions under which the press might be censored,
including “publishing heretical articles”, “spreading fornication and forbidden practices”, and
“propagating and spreading overconsumption”.10
These restrictions are reiterated in the revised version of the Islamic Penal Code,11 adopted in
2013. For instance, those participating in peaceful unauthorised assemblies can be sentenced to
prison terms on the charges of “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national
security” (Article 610 of the Islamic Penal Code),12 “forming a group composed of more than
two people with the purpose of disrupting national security” (Article 498) 13 and/or “membership
of a group with the purpose of disrupting national security” (Article 499). Other criminal charges
include “spreading propaganda against the system”, 14 conspiracy against the State,15
encouragement to “violate public morals”16 as well as satire.17 Similar vaguely worded
6

Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, English translation, https://irandataportal.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/constitutionenglish-1368.pdf
7
The 2016 Law on Political Crimes, available at: https://rc.majlis.ir/fa/law/show/968421
8
“Islamic Republic of Iran: Computer Crimes Law,” ARTICLE19, 2012. https://bit.ly/1RecP6R
9
The Press Law and its subsequent amendments up until 2002 is available at: http://irandataportal.syr.edu/press-law
10
Iranian Press Law, Article 6.
11
The Islamic Penal Code available at: http://rc.majlis.ir/fa/law/print_version/845048
12
The new Islamic Penal Code was introduced in 2013 for an experimental period of five years and was revised in 2016. See the
most updated version of the Islamic Penal Code here on the website of the Iranian parliament:
http://rc.majlis.ir/fa/law/print_version/845048
13
Article 498 Islamic Penal Code 2013, https://iranhrdc.org/islamic-penal-code-of-the-islamic-republic-of-iran-book-five/
14
Article 500 Islamic Penal Code 2013, https://iranhrdc.org/islamic-penal-code-of-the-islamic-republic-of-iran-book-five/
15
Article 610 Islamic Penal Code 2013, https://iranhrdc.org/islamic-penal-code-of-the-islamic-republic-of-iran-book-five/
16
Article 639 Islamic Penal Code 2013, https://iranhrdc.org/islamic-penal-code-of-the-islamic-republic-of-iran-book-five/
17
Article 700 Islamic Penal Code 2013, https://iranhrdc.org/islamic-penal-code-of-the-islamic-republic-of-iran-book-five/

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