A letter from a group of attorneys to the Chief Justice of Iran, regarding three members of Imam Ali Society who have been arrested

A group of attorneys have written a letter to Chief Justice of Iran regarding the arrest of three members of Imam Ali Society.


To: Chief Justice of the Judiciary of Islamic Republic of Iran

The honourable Dr. Ebrahim Raisi,

We, as attorneys in law, find it indispensable to bring to your attention, the following points with regard to detaining three lead members of Imam Ali Popular Student Relief Society (IAPSRS) on June 21, 2020 and also the consequences of this act which could threaten the civil society and judicial security of our nation:

  1. Although the Criminal Procedure Act has provided the judicial officials with different options for encountering different situations, the nature of this Act and the Islamic and legal principles of fair trials require to choose an option that is the most compatible with the situation and with the rights of both parties.

Also, when starting preliminary investigation, the gold standard is to summon the suspect and taking her/him into custody can be done only under exceptional circumstances.

The social position of the members of IAPSRS who have been arrested, the history of their responses to subpoenas and their scope of activities in Iran are amongst the reasons that weaken the necessity of their arrest hence the best approach would have been to summon them at the beginning of the investigation procedure.

The way they have been arrested at the latest hours of the day which continued until the midnight of the next day, entering the office of this NGO and seizing some of its documents and properties is an approach that is not compatible with the legal personality of a well-known, active, legal and transparent NGO. This type of treatment could affect other NGOs, particularly ones that are active in the field of fighting social harms.

  1. Issuing an arrest warrant instead of requesting posting a bail is a very strict act which has been permitted by the law only under exceptional circumstances and only if truly required. In addition to that, you have always emphasized on the importance of less arrests and issuing other warrants. Nonetheless, keeping the members of IAPSRS in custody and not accepting bail is against the principles of fair trial and violates the rights of the accused persons.
  2. According to Article 37 of the constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran, “Innocence is presumed. The law does not consider anyone guilty unless the person’s guilt is proven at a competent court of law”. In addition to that, the Criminal Procedure Act has emphasized on confidentiality of the initial investigations and forbidden the media, judicial authorities and the police from revealing the identity of suspects and publishing their information. Nevertheless, some media have published the identity and information of these members of IAPSRS merely based on their detention and before any trial and act as if their guilt has been proven. The fact that competent authorities have not responded and reacted to publishing of these types of news by the media, violates the principle of “the right to equality of arms” and the principles of a fair trial. Each and every suspect has the right to defend her/himself under fair conditions in a legal court of law and not to be convicted in the media, which is mostly fed by public budget, without any proof and without taking into account her/his clear positions in the past.
  3. According to Articles 64 and 168 of the Criminal Procedure Act, initiating investigation shall be based on reasonable proof and evidence. Nevertheless, release of unreliable audio files related to the arrested individuals in the past days in the media indicates that the detainers have collected electronic devices such as hard drives, flash drives, mobile phones and personal computers of the detained persons only after their arrest and are trying to collect evidence to make their arrest legitimate.

In light of your advice on preventing this type of behavior and emphasizing on the fact that “arresting people in order to collect evidence against them is prohibited. First collect the evidence and then, if required, arrest them”, you are requested to stop this procedure and prevent it in the future.

Additionally, in order to ensure judicial security of our people, it is required to find out how these audio files which were supposed to be in possession of the detaining authority have leaked out to social media and been published.

The Islamic and legal principles and advices of those who codified the laws, particularly the Criminal Procedure Act, have taught us that respecting each individual suspect’s rights means defending morality and dignity of the society. When a well-known NGO in which thousands of people of Iran are members and which has supported thousands of vulnerable people in Iran and some other countries in West Asia, is accused of a crime, ensuring that these principles are respected becomes even more important.

You are therefore requested to take the required actions to address the issue of violation of rights of this NGO and its members and also to ensure that the rights of the accused persons and the principles of a fair trial will be respected in order to make sure that the social capital of the civil society and the solidarity among Iranian are not damaged.

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