In an annual survey known as the Rule of Law Index, issued by the World Justice Project, Iran ranks last out of 66 nations for the protection of fundamental rights. The survey notes that Iranian law enforcement authorities perpetrate abuses against citizens, and Iran's courts are infected by corruption and political interference.
Recent news from Iran demonstrates the depths of the Iranian government's contempt for the rule of law.
Earlier this month, Iranian security forces attacked women's rights activist and Islamic scholar Haleh Sahabi during her father's funeral; she died where she fell. When imprisoned journalist Hoda Saber heard the news in Evin prison, he started a hunger strike in protest; according to a letter signed by 64 fellow political prisoners, Mr. Saber himself was severely beaten by prison authorities at the prison infirmary, and died hours later.
Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi continue to be held under house arrest, together with their wives, cut off from all communication with the outside world.
After raids on their homes last month, more than a dozen Baha'i educators, who staffed an institute of higher learning for young Baha'is barred from a university education, remain in prison.
Credible reports of prison rape and torture of men and women detained by the authorities continue to surface. Amnesty International notes that "those who have sought to expose human rights violations and the all pervasive climate of impunity that prevails, such as Mehdi Mahmoudian, who compiled information about torture of detainees, have been imprisoned, while lawyers who have defended those targeted by the state have themselves been targeted."
The Iranian government must end the systematic human rights abuses it perpetrates against its own citizens. As President Barack Obama says, the U.S. supports a set of universal rights:
"These rights include free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law, and the right to choose your own leaders – - whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus, Sanaa or Tehran."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says, "The United States stands with all Iranians who wish for a government that respects their human rights, their dignity and their freedom."