The Iranian judiciary published a directive for prosecutors, judges, and the prison system with the goal of decreasing imprisonment and reducing the prison population.
The judiciary directive dated June 19, 2013 is supposedly based on the wishes of the supreme leader, as expressed in a speech he gave in Mashhad eleven months ago (9,10).
In an another development, announced on the same day, 1249 prisoners are pardoned by the supreme leader. It is not clear if any political prisoners are included in this prisoner release. Only one political prisoner, journalist Jila Baniyaghoob, has been released since the announcement.
On the face of it, it looks like the supreme leader and his judiciary is trying to preempt any initiative by the newly elected "moderate" president on the prisoners issue. The regime is placing itself in a position of saying "we already did that", in case the new president pushes for "prison reforms" or "judiciary reforms".
These initiatives also stress who's in charge in the Islamic republic, the supreme leader's name is features prominently in both news releases.
More than 80 new prisoners arrive in Iranian prisons every day (7), with the episodic mass arrests on special occasions. In item 5 of the 29 item directive, the judiciary makes a point of asking for more coordination before any "mass arrests" by the "security forces".
One practical aspect of the judiciary action is the fact that Iran has about a quarter of a million prisoners, but an official prison capacity of just over 100,000. Even though the Iranian government is working to reduce the prison population through executions (10), the prisons remain crowded.
Many of the items in the directive deal with "payments" and "bail" money--That is understandable given the hard economic times, for the Iranian regime that is.
None of the 29 items in the judiciary directive address the issue of political prisoners. Iran maintains that it has no political prisoners, even as their names and pictures are becoming more public in Iran and the rest of he world (1,2,3,4,5,6).
|Ayatollah Boroujerdi is in prison for calling for separation of religion and politics, and calling for a referendum|
Photo source: voiran, migspanel
I doubt Rouhani will have the power to order the release of thousands of political prisoners. The last president couldn't even visit his friend in prison without a permission (that he never got) (12).
President Rouhani is expected to complain, behind closed doors, and submit to the will of the dictator on literally everything.
Ps. I am sure that this topic will tempt the cyber-Basij to switch topic to US prison issues, the high rate of incarceration in the United States, or GITMO. I would like to point out that none of the US issues have anything to do with Iran, and as such, they can not serve as an excuse for Iran to arrest, impression, and execute its people. So please try to come up with some other excuse if you must.
Below is the full Judiciary directive in Persian:
(1) Interview with an ex-prisoner
(2) The Guardian's Political Prisoners database (incomplete)
(3) the story of Ebrahim Yazdi
(4) Easing of prison conditions for Amir Hekmati
(5) faces of Iranian political prisoners
(6) free all political prisoners Facebook page
(7) Iran offers bachelor degree in how to be a prison warden