Iran Human Rights Iranian parliament suspends reformist press law

Iranian parliament suspends reformist press law

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AFP: Hardline deputies in Iran’s parliament have voted to suspend a law passed by their reformist predecessors that was aimed at giving journalists fairer trials, it was announced Monday. The law, pushed through by reformers in 2003, stipulated that journalists in court for press-related offences should face a jury made up of press union officials and representatives of other social groups. AFP

TEHRAN – Hardline deputies in Iran’s parliament have voted to suspend a law passed by their reformist predecessors that was aimed at giving journalists fairer trials, it was announced Monday.

The law, pushed through by reformers in 2003, stipulated that journalists in court for press-related offences should face a jury made up of press union officials and representatives of other social groups.

Reformists had hoped that the law, which has never been fully implemented, would give some protection to a press frequently targetted by the hardline judiciary.

But according to parliament sources, more than two-thirds of deputies in the Majlis — held by right-wingers since May 2004 — voted to suspend the law for an initial one year period.

As an alternative, hardline deputies called for the jury make-up for press-related offences to return to a previous arrangement — where jurors are named by a variety of regime officials.

Iran’s often turbulent experiment with reforms — which began in 1997 with the election of moderate President Mohammad Khatami — has seen major growth in the press sector and more overt criticism of the way the Islamic republic is run.

But the hundreds of publications have also been shut down and scores of journalists arrested or imprisoned in a major crackdown by the judiciary, a bastion of Iran’s religious right.

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