Press Release, Human Rights Watch
Investigate Role of Top Officials in
(New York, August 28, 2009) -The new head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Ardishir Larijani, should immediately open an impartial investigation to determine the role of high-ranking officials in attacks on largely peaceful demonstrators and torture of detainees, Human Rights Watch said today.
Ayatollah Sadegh Ardishir Larijani
letter to Larijani, Human Rights Watch urged him to investigate those
responsible for attacks that wounded hundreds of people and caused the deaths of
dozens during the post-election protests, as well as a number of outstanding
cases predating the elections.
"This will be the most important test for Iran's judiciary under Ayatollah Larijani's leadership - does it have the political will to go after those responsible for violence against peaceful protesters and the torture of detainees?" said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Larijani to be the new chief of the judiciary on August 14, 2009. Larijani was previously a member of the country's Guardian Council.
Human Rights Watch also called on Larijani to investigate credible reports of torture in Kahrizak and Evin prisons, and to close secret places of detention.
Official and quasi-official bodies, including the Ministry of Intelligence, the police, and the Revolutionary Guards Corps, run secret and unauthorized sites where they detain and interrogate persons arrested on politically motivated charges, Human Rights Watch said. In view of the judiciary's legal authority over these detention centers, Larijani should investigate and take immediate steps to end these practices.
Hundreds of peaceful protesters, including many leading reform advocates, remain in detention, some more than two months after they were arrested. Many have not had access to lawyers and have been kept in solitary confinement. The government has staged a mass show trial of more than 100 of them, at which some prominent reformists have read confessions that bear every sign of having been coerced.
"The judiciary should live up to its obligation to release them or charge them with a recognizable criminal offense," Stork said. "Those charged should be promptly tried before a court whose proceedings meet international fair trial standards."
In its letter, Human Rights Watch called on Larijani to:
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