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Shirin Ebadi says national laws should respect freedom of Iranian journalists

Tehran, May 1, IRNA-The Iranian lawyer and Noble Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi said in Tehran on Sunday that the press penalties in the current national laws are so extensive that the journalists have been deprived of freedom of expression and exercising creativity.

She told IRNA that wide range of penalties in the national laws accounts for the journalists self-censorship in expressing their opinions.

Stressing that the current press law does not guarantee freedom of expression, she said, "The International Human Rights Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" (1966) -- signed by Iran in 1975 -- underline the freedom of expression as a basic human principle of human rights.

"Therefore, everyone is entitled to freedom of expression and no one can be prosecuted merely for expressing ideas." Ebadi made it clear that Human Rights Charter has only excluded 'promoting war' from the principle of freedom of expression and the journalists cannot be exposed to any restrictions under any other pretexts.

Turning to the focus placed on press freedom in the Constitution, she said that such freedom is subject to keeping up the `public order' and complying with the principles of Islam.

She said that democracy cannot be materialized, unless freedom of expression is guaranteed. Since without such freedom the minority will be deprived of improving status and become majority.

The Noble prize laureate turned to the role of international bodies in seeing to it that the press freedom is enforced and said that the human rights is a matter of international concern, overshadowing any other law and even the constitutions of various countries.

"The world countries are not only eligible to violate the principle of freedom of expression by making reference to their national law and constitution, but are required to formulate their laws based on the human rights charter.

"Therefore, the world countries are entitled to declare their views on the human rights status in other countries. This enables Iran to defend the Palestinians rights," he added.

Ebadi underlined that the opinions on the human rights issue expressed by other countries is no way taken as interference in the country's domestic affairs. This explains the approach of Iran's government towards free elections in Iraq.

"Once a reporter is arrested in any country, the whole world is entitled to raise objection to it, given that arrest took place as the reporter was on duty. Therefore, condemnation of such act would not be meddling in the internal affairs of the relevant country.

"The objections raised by international human rights bodies on cases of violation of such basic rights should not be taken as partiality," said Ebadi.

... Payvand News - 5/1/05 ... --

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