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Iran

https://www.idea.int/democracytracker/

April 2024

Women and girls assaulted in new hijab enforcement campaign

Women and girls in Iran have been subjected to a violent crackdown by the country’s police as part of a new hijab enforcement campaign announced by authorities on 13 April. The UN and media outlets reported that women and girls across the country were being harassed and detained, with some alleging that they had been beaten and sexually assaulted. Surveillance cameras were reportedly being used to identify individuals not complying with the mandatory hijab laws and hundreds of businesses were forced to close for not enforcing the laws. On 21 April, the Tehran head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced the creation of a new hijab law enforcement body, which would, he said, police the dress codes ‘in a more serious manner’ in public spaces. Commentators have indicated that the campaign is the most serious attempt by the state to impose its authority on this issue since the Mahsa Amini protests of 2022 and 2023.      

Sources: United Nations, Iran InternationalThe Guardian, The Washington Post, International IDEA

March 2024

Hardliners dominate Iran’s elections
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On 1 March, Iran held parliamentary elections for all 290 seats of its Islamic Consultative Assembly, although contests for 45 of these seats will go to a second round in April or May, due to the fact that the winning candidates had failed to secure 20 per cent of the vote. The first round was dominated by members of the conservative, hardliner political faction, who clinched 200 seats, with many candidates from the reformist faction prevented from running. Despite there having been 1,713 female candidates, only 11 were elected in the first round. Voters also selected candidates for 88 seats of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, a deliberative body tasked with appointing the country’s Supreme Leader, and hardliners dominated this poll, too. Voter turnout was 40.64 per cent, the lowest since the foundation of the Islamic Republic in 1979.   

Sources: The Iran Primer, Al Jazeera, Stimson Center, Wilson Center, Voice of America, Newsweek, International IDEA      

January 2024

Deadliest terrorist attack since the founding of the Republic

On 3 January, the Islamic State (ISIS) carried out a devastating dual bombing at a commemoration ceremony in the city of Kerman, in southeastern Iran. The event was held in honour of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani. The attack resulted in nearly 100 deaths and more than 200 injuries, making it the deadliest terrorist attack in Iran since the 1979 revolution. In late January, it was revealed that the U.S. had previously warned Iran of a potential ISIS threat, but it is unclear whether these warnings were heeded. Iranian dissidents have suggested the Iranian regime could be involved in the attack as a way to rally support amidst internal discontent. The situation remains tense, with fears of further violence in the country ahead of the legislative elections due in March.

Sources: The New York Times, Iran International, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal

Executions targeting minority communities surge

A surge of executions has been reported in Iran. Authorities executed numerous protesters in January, and an additional eleven are awaiting execution. The executed include Mohammad Ghobadlou, a 23-year-old protester with a mental health disability, whose death sentence had been overturned by the Supreme Court in July 2023 (though the Chief Justice later vetoed the retrial). Four Kurdish dissidents were also executed after secretive trials and allegations of torture. The Iranian authorities have refused to return the bodies to their families, inciting a labour strike in Iran’s Kurdish region.

These actions have been condemned by the United Nations, and several national and international rights groups have called on Iranian authorities to halt the planned executions. This increase in executions is part of a broader crackdown on protesters and dissidents in the country. Those targeted have often been subjected to unfair trials, raising serious human rights concerns. Despite international condemnations and efforts to engage with Iran, the execution rate has increased, with over 800 people reportedly executed in 2023, the highest rate per capita in the world.

Sources: Human Rights Watch, TIME, Iran International (1), Amnesty International, United Nations, Iran International (2)

July 2023

Iran reinstates morality police to enforce strict hijab regulations
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Iran has reinstated the ‘morality police’ following a 10-month withdrawal due to nationwide protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022. This reintroduction is accompanied by the regime's proclaimed "softer" approach towards hijab enforcement, with President Ebrahim Raisi advocating for respectful dialogue. The renewed campaign was announced on 17 July, with a strategy emphasizing persuasion and counselling with women not observing the hijab, rather than punitive measures. The new approach is also marked by the introduction of a law currently being drafted by Iran’s Judiciary committee of the legislature (Majlis). The aim of this legislation is to outline the norms for wearing the hijab and specify penalties for non-compliance. This legislative move indicates a shift towards legal mechanisms for enforcing hijab compliance, rather than relying solely on the morality police.

The regime's reinstatement of the morality police and changes to enforce Islamic dress codes are viewed sceptically, seen as a deceptive tactic to intensify repression and curb unrest especially ahead of Amini's death anniversary and rising female protests. Despite government efforts, many women continue to resist hijab enforcement efforts.

Sources: Al Jazeera, Middle East Monitor, National Public Radio, Middle East Eye, Al Arabiya News

See all event reports for this country

GSoD Indices Data 2013-2022

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Basic Information

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Population Tooltip
88 550 570
System of government
Theocratic Republic
Head of government
President Mohammad Mokhber (acting, since 2024)
Head of government party
Combatant Clergy Association
Electoral system for lower or single chamber
Two-Round System
Women in lower or single chamber
3.85%
Women in upper chamber
Not applicable
Last legislative election
2024
Head of state
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
Selection process for head of state
Indirect election ('electoral college' - body elected for the express purpose)
Latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) date
08/11/2019
Latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) percentage of recommendations supported
43.47%
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Human Rights Treaties

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State Party State party
Signatory Signatory
No Action No action
United Nations Human Right Treaties
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
State Party
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
State Party
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
State Party
Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
No Action
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment
No Action
Convention on the Rights of the Child
State Party
International Convention on Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
No Action
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance 
No Action
International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
State Party
International Labour Organisation Treaties
Forced Labour Convention
State Party
Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention
No Action
Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention
No Action
Equal Remuneration Convention
State Party
Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
State Party
Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention
State Party
Convention concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment
No Action
Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention
State Party
in
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Performance by category over the last 6 months

Representation neutral Representation
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Representation neutral Rights
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Representation neutral Rule of law
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Representation neutral Participation
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Global State of Democracy Indices

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Explore the indices
Representation
Representation
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high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Rights
Rights
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high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Rule of Law
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high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Participation
Participation
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high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4

Factors of Democratic Performance Over Time

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