[JURIST] The Parliament of Iran [official website, in Persian] on Sunday passed a law defining what constitutes a political crime. Under the country's constitution, individuals accused of committing "public offenses" are guaranteed public trials and other legal protections. Prior to this newly passed law, however, the term "political offenses" was never defined. The parliament's actions are part of a larger reform promised by President Hassan Rouhani's [official website] government, but critics say [Reuters report] that the new law may not go far enough and lacks sufficient breadth. The law offers protection to those accused of political offenses such as insulting government officials, but not for violent offenses or political crimes deemed especially serious, such as attempting to overthrow the state.
The Iranian government arrested hundreds in a crackdown on anti-government activity in the wake of protests over the re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June of 2009, drawing criticism from international human rights groups and advocacy organizations. A Tehran Revolutionary Court [official website, in Persian] in April of 2010 sentenced [JURIST report] three prominent progressive activists to six years in prison in connection with protests. The men were high-ranking officials of the Islamic Iran Participation Front [party website, in Farsi], a pro-democracy reformist political party that supported opposition leader Mousavi in the disputed election. Iranian authorities jailed prominent Iranian journalist Mohammad Nourizad [JURIST report] on charges in April of 2010. Also, in March 2010 an Iranian appeals court upheld [JURIST report] the death sentence of 20-year-old student Mohammad Amin Valian, wok part in anti-government protests in December.