Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions A/HRC/14/24/Add.1
para 376
Full recommendation
We would also like to appeal to your Excellency's Government to ensure the right to freedom of
religion or belief in accordance with the principles set forth in the Declaration on the
Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion or Belief and
article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights as well as of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Assessment drafted using Impact Iran indicators1
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran names the Twelver Ja’fari School of Shia Islam
as the state religion (Article 12) 2. Article 13 of the Constitution provides that the Zoroastrian,
Jewish, and Christians “are the only recognized religious minorities” under Iranian law. Because
there are no laws safeguarding the right of religious minorities to worship, maintain places of
worship or assemble, the structural exclusion of other religious minorities leaves them without
legal protection to manifest and practice their religion or belief.
Articles 23 to 27 of the Constitution provide for freedom of expression, assembly and association
(subject to “not being detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam” or “not violating the
basis of the Islamic Republic,” among other conditions) as well as the freedom to practice ones’
religion. Article 14 specifies that the government of the Islamic Republic and all Muslims have a
duty to treat non-Muslims “in conformity with ethical norms and the principles of Islamic justice
and equity, and to respect their human rights;” however, this right applies only to those “who
refrain from engaging in conspiracy or activity against Islam and the Islamic Republic of Iran”, a
charge that is regularly entered against certain religious minorities.
Article 167 of the constitution of Iran obligates judges to use religious jurisprudence sources to
pass sentences, in cases where the codified law is silent. Though the crime of “apostasy” is not
recognized in codified law, Article 167 may be used by judges – who may also be clerics – to
issue death sentences for apostasy as it is defined in religious jurisprudence, which foresees
renunciation of Islam as deserving death.
Apostasy has been reported as a charge against an executed person as recently as 2011:
Abdolreza Gharabat, a former Revolutionary Guards officer who had claimed to be in
communication with the Hidden Imam, was dissatisfied with the Supreme Leader, and had
attracted hundreds of followers to his “Conduct and Journey” movement.3 Apostasy may also
1

CCPR.18.1.S.1; CCPR.18.1.S.2; CCPR.18.1.S.4; CCPR.18.3.S.1; CCPR.18.1.P.2; CCPR.18.1.P.3; CCPR.18.2.P.1;
CCPR.18.3.P.1; CCPR.18.4.P.1; CCPR.18.1.O.1; CCPR.18.1.O.2; CCPR.18.1.O.1; CCPR.18.2.O.1
2 The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, English translation, https://iranhrdc.org/the-constitution-of-the-islamicrepublic-of-iran/
3 See One Person’s Story: Abdolreza Gharabat https://www.iranrights.org/memorial/story/-7482/abdolreza-gharabat

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