June 16, 2021

Presidential candidates urged to pledge to defend press freedom

first_img Help by sharing this information News Receive email alerts Organisation As the campaign for Iran’s 12 June presidential election officially got under way, Reporters Without Borders wrote today to the candidates urging them to commit to the unconditional release of the 13 journalists and bloggers currently held in Iran.More than 100 news media have been censored since August 2005 and more than 100 journalists and bloggers have been arrested and prosecuted. In 2008 alone, a total of 30 newspapers were suspended, 22 of them at the behest of the Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance. Iran has for years been the Middle East country that jails the most journalists.Press freedom has been a key political and social issue in Iran during the 12 years that Mohammad Khatami and then Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been president. The hopes raised by the election of Khatami, a moderate, in August 1997 were quickly dashed. His conservative opponents retained control of the courts and security apparatus. The offensive against the media was stepped up in a campaign orchestrated by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader.The Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance, an offshoot of the culture and Islamic guidance ministry, has become the leading tool of media repression since the ultraconservative Ahmadinejad became president. Reporters Without Borders has seen an increase in violations of basic freedoms, especially freedom of expression, during this period.The next president needs to show that he can get Iran to evolve in a democratic direction. This will not be possible without a free and independent press. Free expression will not be guaranteed in Iran if the imprisonment of journalists and the suspension of news media continue to be standard practices.Therefore, although this election does not offer all the guarantees of a democratic, free and transparent poll, Reporters Without Borders asks the Islamic Republic’s next president to reform the law in order to decriminalise press offences and guarantee freedom of expression regardless of language, religion or political views. Iran’s current media legislation is exceptionally repressive.Reporters Without Borders also urges the next president to amend article 24 of the constitution, which says that “publications and newspapers are free to express all opinions except those that perturb the bases of Islam and public decency,” thereby clearly violating article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 19 of the United Nation’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iran ratified in 1948 and 1975. Introduced with the declared aim of protecting the public from immoral content, censorship was quickly extended to political news and information.Immediate steps must be taken by the next president to end the impunity in the many cases of journalists who have been murdered or tortured. Those responsible for the deaths of four journalists – Majid Charif, Mohammad Mokhtari, Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh and Pirouz Davani – and the death of Canadian-Iranian photographer Zahra Kazemi must be brought to trial. The death of the young blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi in detention must be investigated.The next president must also end the state’s monopoly of broadcasting and guarantee free access to news and information in Iran, where it is currently a crime to possess a satellite dish.He must also put a stop to the harassment of foreign news media. Culture and Islamic guidance minister Mohammad Hossein Safar-Harandi banned the BBC’s new Farsi-language TV station in December 2008 and forbade Iranian journalists to work for foreign news media.The authorities hound not only newspapers but also online publications. A cyber-crime bill that was passed by parliament on its first reading on 2 July 2008 plans to make “promoting corruption, prostitution or apostasy” in blogs and websites punishable by death. When ratifying some of its articles on 3 November 2008, the parliamentary justice commission established a new committee for online filtering. Two weeks later, the Tehran attorney-general’s adviser said the authorities were responsible for filtering out “five million websites.”The next president must authorise the reopening of suspended newspapers and ban the filtering of news websites and other online publications.He must put a stop to all such repressive measures and, as the constitution’s guarantor, must refuse to execute decrees and decisions taken illegally by institutions that are not democratically elected such as the Committee for Determining Unauthorised Sites and the Council of the Cultural Revolution. to go further May 26, 2009 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Presidential candidates urged to pledge to defend press freedom March 18, 2021 Find out more June 9, 2021 Find out more Call for Iranian New Year pardons for Iran’s 21 imprisoned journalists February 25, 2021 Find out more Follow the news on Iran News Iran: Press freedom violations recounted in real time January 2020 News RSF_en IranMiddle East – North Africa IranMiddle East – North Africa News As the campaign for Iran’s 12 June presidential election officially got under way, Reporters Without Borders wrote today to the candidates urging them to commit to the unconditional release of the 13 journalists and bloggers currently held in Iran. Iran has for years been the Middle East country that jails the most journalists. After Hengameh Shahidi’s pardon, RSF asks Supreme Leader to free all imprisoned journalistslast_img

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