During his 2013 presidential campaign, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani promised to uphold the “rights of the people” enumerated in the country’s constitution. Millions of his supporters demanded social and political rights, including the release of political prisoners from prison and house arrest.
In this paper, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran addresses the ongoing human rights violations occurring under the purview of nine ministries that are under the authority of the president, and provides recommendations he can implement to put an end to these violations. It also notes the executive powers and areas that are under the president’s direct control, and the immediate measures he can take to address rights violations. While the document is by no means comprehensive, the Campaign offers it as a starting point for Rouhani to begin fulfilling his campaign promises to reinstate the rule of law in Iran.
Although Iran’s executive branch is limited in scope, the ministries under its purview are responsible for a wide range of human rights violations. The president therefore is empowered to prevent and stop these violations. Rouhani pledged to uphold the Iranian constitution at his inauguration; hence he should immediately implement changes to amend harmful policies, monitor the performance of officials within his administration, and uphold the mechanisms guaranteeing the implementation of the Iranian constitution.
A number of Iranian institutions outside of the executive branch—including the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization (IRGC), the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), and the Judiciary—have become safe harbors for human rights violators. However, as head of the executive branch and principal enforcer of the constitution, the president has the authority to hold these state institutions accountable by investigating and formally noting any violations of the rights guaranteed by the Iranian constitution. He can also introduce legislation and issue directives regarding government practices, affording him significant ability to affect the state of human rights in Iran.
The Campaign welcomes the election of Hassan Rouhani, the only candidate to raise issues of human rights and the rights of the people, and entreats him to heed the voices raised during his campaign, engage with the Iranian and international human rights communities who work to protect the rights of the Iranian people, and use all the tools at his disposal to fulfill his campaign promises.