A Review of Iran’s Judicial System

With the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, judicial institutions and the administration of justice were subjected to drastic changes mandated by the provision of Republic’s Constitution. The shi’ite clergy, which for nearly seven decades--since the victory of Iran’s constitutional movement in 1907--had been deprived of its traditional control of Iran’ judicial system, recouped its lost authority. Revolutionary courts that gradually took over the administration of justice consisted of Islamic jurists of undefined hierarchy. The Islamic code of retribution, and Islamic criminal procedure, for the first time, supplemented the Islamic civil law that had already been in force.

The structural changes in the Iranian legal system, particularly in civil and criminal codes of procedure, have resulted in substantial flaws in the administration of justice. They have, furthermore, transformed the judiciary power, once a relatively independent and secular institution, into a pliable instrument for the realization of political and ideological objectives of the regime. Public confidence in due process of law, in the impartiality and effectiveness of the Iranian courts, has thus been severely tested. Perhaps as importantly, the resulting incompatibility of the Islamic judicial system with international legal standards has further discouraged badly needed foreign investment in Iran.

Morteza Nasiri
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