Head of Iranian Judiciary Demands More Restrictions on Press
In his speech at a gathering of high level judiciary authorities on Sunday, Sadegh Larijani said: “How can some people who are connected to certain political factions publish news and disseminate lies and divisive analysis under fake names and enjoy safety from which they create doubt in society and propagate division among regime authorities?”
Sadegh Larijani’s recent comments have created concern among Iranian legal experts who expect the Head of the Judiciary to maintain objectivity in the country’s political developments. A legal expert in Tehran told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran: “Though it is not unprecedented to hear the Head of the Judiciary express opinions about political issues, the responsibility for oversight of media lies with the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance, and this Ministry has already banned many newspapers and magazines so far. Additionally, the National Security Council has also frequently issued directives for newspapers not to publish news about different political subjects. Furthermore, military organizations are constantly filing complaints against newspapers, causing their closure. Under such circumstances, it is expected of the Judiciary to remain objective and to only review complaints against newspapers, not to join others as plaintiff or to take sides in further accusations of the press.”
Sadegh Larijani added: “The National Inspection Organization will need to strengthen its oversight capabilities in this area and to review the policies governing licenses for publication and report on it. Tehran’s Prosecutor must also use all capacities to face such violations of law.”
Larijani’s statements about press oversight and greater restrictions were made after his recent comments that as Head of Judiciary, he is allowed to express his political viewpoints in the form of analysis. Those comments created concern among many for they signaled the loss of objectivity within the Judiciary. Currently, scores of journalists and political, social, and economic analysts remain in prison without clear charges or they have been tried in initial and appeals courts in which their legal defense has not been heard properly.