Judiciary Blocking Compensation for False Arrests
High Number of False Arrests Would Require Large Payout
More than a year after Iran’s new Code of Criminal Procedure went into effect, the Judiciary is resisting implementing Article 255, which grants individuals the right to sue the government and seek damages for false arrests.
According to Article 258, the National Criminal Compensation Commission (NCCC)—consisting of the chief justice of the Supreme Court, or one of his deputies, as well as two other judges appointed by the judiciary chief—is responsible for ruling on such cases, but the Judiciary has not approved the procedural regulations and compensatory funds have not been properly allocated.
On August 13, Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi said that the budget allocation for the NCCC was insufficient: “We predict that the compensation amount for false arrests is going to be a large number and we don’t think Parliament or the government can handle it… The courts and prosecutors must be more careful so that they make no mistakes and we don’t have to pay damages.”
The justice minister appeared to be implying that the reason the Judiciary had not yet initiated the formation of the NCCC was because there have been too many false arrests and the government would not be able to cope with the potentially huge financial payout.
On May 19, 2016 the Deputy Supervisor of the Supreme Court Gholamreza Ansari announced that the procedural regulations for the NCCC’s operation had been sent to the judiciary chief for approval. “Commissions cannot operate until the judiciary chief approves them,” he said, adding: “Local commissions have been formed in various cities and they are registering requests for damages, but it is not clear which authority will pay for the compensations.”
On June 13, 2016 Pourmohammadi told reporters that his ministry had taken the “first necessary steps” to allocate compensations from the treasury. “If there is a ruling to pay compensation for false arrests we are obliged to pay it,” he said. “At the moment, the amount allocated for compensations is very little and insufficient. This year’s national budget included a general provision to pay compensation for false arrests from the 40 billion tomans ($128.3 million USD) allocated for all damages payable from the treasury… but the Judiciary has to figure out the details for compensation rulings.”
In July 2005 a citizens’ rights commission formed by then Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi published a report on prison conditions that included sections on arbitrary arrests.
In a rare admission of human rights abuses, the report revealed the “use of blindfolds, beating of suspects, prolonged detentions and long delays in investigating suspects” and “in some cases detained girls and women were possibly assaulted.” The report also mentioned the case of one person who had been in prison for 17 years with no records of him ever being prosecuted or sentenced. In other cases highlighted by the report, “1,400 inmates in one prison were in legal limbo,” a 13-year-old boy was kept in a notorious detention center for stealing a chicken, and a woman in her 80s was arrested because she was unable to pay a debt.