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Ebadi: Children Rights Are the Same As Human Rights

Yaas-e Nou (Persian Morning Daily)
Thursday, Oct 9, 2003 Vol. 1, No 176 Page: 15
By: Mahvash Kian-Ersi

Summary: Renowned Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi was announced on Oct 9 to have won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in favor of democracy and freedom in Iran.   Ebadi was the first Muslim woman and also the first Iranian to become the Nobel peace laureate.   One day before this astonishing announcement, she talked to reformist Yaas-e Nou on the occasion of World Children Day (Oct 8).   Here we offer the full text of our interview with this university professor of law.

Text: The children should grow coordinately from physical, spiritual, cultural and economic points of view.   The families and the governments are obliged to provide the facilities to the children to grow.   The significance of children's growth prompted the world nations to draw out an international convention for children's rights.   In the face of social, cultural and economic abnormalities, the children need healthy atmosphere.   Now we read a short interview with Shirin Ebadi.

Q: What do you think about children's rights, regardless of boundaries and differences?

A: Children's rights are the same as human rights.   The only difference is that the parents should also abide by them.   The children should enjoy the right of living in a healthy society, the right of participation and they are entitled to be provided with necessities.

Q:To what extent do international conventions incorporate such ideals?

A:Regarding children's rights we have the international convention for children's rights.   The convention contains the wishes of intellectuals and lawyers for children throughout the world.   The countries which can abide by the intents would see ideal conditions for children.

Q:How is implementation of this convention guaranteed?

A:The countries joining the convention are committed to putting into action the intents, or else, a United Nations children committee would file lawsuit against them.   Ignorance of the decisions adopted by the committee may even result in economic sanctions against that specific country.

Q:Have you ever seen such a case?

A:No, because the convention is not an old one.

Q:Are the international organizations conducting any special research on implementation of such conventions?

A:The countries that join the convention should present a report on children's rights to the UN children's committee in five years.   The committee would issue warning if the report deems violating children's rights.   If the country turns a blind eye to the warnings, it would experience harsher decisions like sanctions.

Q:What do you think about conditions of children's rights in Iran vis--vis the international convention?

A:If we consider the convention as international criteria and standards, I regret to say that we are far from the standards.   For instance, marriage age is low in our country.   The girls are accountable before the law since the age of 9 and the boys since the age of 15.   The blood money compensation for Muslim children and Zoroastrian children are not equal.   The blood money compensation for boys is twice the girls.   In other worlds children face legal discrimination and it contravenes the convention.

As I said the international convention on children's rights represents an international criterion and the laws should be revised in line with this convention.   We cannot put international conventions into action unless we set regulations for their implementation.   The law underlies any function.

Q:How well are children, parents and teachers familiar with children rights in Iran?

A:Unfortunately, they are not familiar enough.   That is why the Association of Defending Children's Rights is holding training courses.

Q:What can the government do to raise the knowledge of children's rights in the society?

A:Training on children's rights should be launched as a subject in junior and high schools.

Q:What can be done to rehabilitate the street children who are roaming the streets since they are six?

A:The government can spend its budget allocation for street children on procurement of building, employment of social assistants, foodstuff, cook, etc.   The government should pay the street children stipends to bar them from working in the streets.   Anyhow, such a plan needs special executive mechanisms to take effect.   For instance, the pays should be earmarked for up to two children in a family and the government should stop releasing pays if the children flunk.   In that case, the society would not face a flood of illiterates in the future.

Q:What discipline is adopted to deal with child abuse either by parents or the relatives?

A:The latest version of law dealing with child abuse was adopted in 2002.   According to this law, any physical blow or mental trauma against children and under-18s amount to a crime and no individual plaintiff is required in this case.   The public prosecutor can cope with the offenders.   The important point in this law is that the judiciary and not the parents are entitled to lodge a lawsuit.

Q:How can we support the children subject to abnormal conditions at home?

A:If it is proven to the court that abnormal conditions at the family would damage the physical and mental health of the children, the court authorizes anyone who is ready to accept the child.   Or the court can order the children be looked after at the State Welfare Organization.

Q:What problems do we have in Iran regarding children's rights?

A:The Iranian law looks at the children as properties of the parents.   For instance, if a neighbor kills a child he would face `qisas' (the eye-for-an-eye law of retribution) -- required by the Islamic Penal Code.   The same man will not face such punishment if he kills his own child and he will at most get ten years in jail if the mother files complaint.   We have similar laws.   When a couple decides to get divorced, the custody of over-2 boys and over-7 girls rests with the father while the future of such children is forgotten.   The law should take into account the independence of children.

Q:How will a mother who kills her own child be punished?

A:Such mothers face eye-for-an-eye law of retribution and they do not enjoy any acquittal.

Q:Can you tell us the problems concerning implementation of laws set for children?

A:We have to revise the laws but the present articles are often ignored due to lack of facilities.   For instance, insufficient dormitories and schools bar us from implementing our regulations.

Q:Taking into account the cultural and native characters of various regions in our country, how can we make a better world for children?

A:We should revise our view of children and let them think independently in their own world.

Q:Newspapers quoted the judiciary as saying juvenile delinquents would no longer face flogging and execution.   How come this proposal came up?

A:I announced in a speech six years ago that the 1925 law, backed by Seyed Hassan Modarres, was much better than the law adopted in 1991.   The first law was drawn up when Iran was under the monarchy but 70 years later, the law has shown backwardness.   Our laws have not made any headway and they have even lost credibility.   In my speech, I proposed revival of the 1925 law.

Now, I see many others advocating the same law and the judiciary proposal is based on the 1925 law.

I hope that one day we will have regulations in line with our society and do not make ourselves content with the prevailing laws.


Ebadi hails women's custody rights

Tehran, Dec 2 — Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi on Tuesday congratulated Iranian women for driving home their custody rights.

The Arbitrative Expediency Council on Saturday agreed to grant divorced Iranian mothers the right to the custody of their children upto the age of seven.

"This reform of the law is the result of 20 years of resistance of the Iranian women.   I congratulate Iranians, especially women, on this victory," he told reporters at a news conference, held at IRNA building here.

The Expediency Council sided with the parliament after the bill was twice quashed by the Supervisory Guardians Council.

Divorced mothers have already the custody right to their daughters up to the age of seven and the new law incorporates the same right to their sons.

"Mothers will be given priority in custody rights of their children among divorced couples and after age seven, the custody will be held by fathers," the secretary of the Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezaei, said.

The number of Iranian girls entering universities have remarkably risen in recent years and overtaken boys, with more women taking over key posts such as mayors from their male peers.


Copyright 2002,
All Rights Reserved By Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting News Network
Sponsored By IRIB News Computer Center.

Human Rights in Iran, Without Discrimination for All Human Beings

(An Interview with the First Female Judge in Iran)
Jameah (Morning & Afternoon Daily)
Feb. 16, 1998 Page: 11

Summary:   Shirin Ebadi was among the first women in Iran who sat in the seat of judgment.   And she was the first woman to become the president of a court in the country.   She has written a number of books such as:  "History of Human Right Documents in Iran,"   "The Rights of Children",   "The Rights of Refugees" and   "Tradition and Modernism in the Iranian Law."

She was warded a plate by the Human Rights Watch in 1996 for her legal studies in the area of human rights resulting in the advancement of the rights in Iran.

What follows are excerpts from her interview with Jameah Persian daily:

On the Islamic Human Rights Declaration: After the revolution the Iranian government felt that the human rights have been used politically in the world, especially as it has received a few warnings from the United Nations.   Accordingly, it initiated the Islamic Human Rights Declaration.

The Islamic Human Rights Declaration was approved at the conference of the OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) foreign ministers in Cairo upon Iran's initiative.   After the approval of the declaration the majority of the Islamic countries acceded to it, including the Iranian government.

Since then whenever it is receiving a warning from the UN in connection with disregard of the Human Rights Declaration, the Iranians government has been stating it follows the Islamic Human Rights Declaration.

This statement and reasoning is good and valuable by itself, but legally it is not valid.   Why?   Because when the Iranian government joined the Islamic Conference Charter in 1351 (1972) it only made the reservation for its membership that if there is any conflict between the UN Charter and the OIC Charter and decisions, the UN Charter and regulations would come first.   It has not abolished that stipulation and it has not come out of the UN either.

Therefore, from the merely legal point of view (I emphasis that I am a lawyer and know only the law and not policies and I am not speaking politically) Iran cannot invoke the Islamic Human Rights Declaration for breaches from the human rights standards because of its stipulation at that time.

On differences between (universal) human rights and Islamic human rights: Some think that there are separate human rights for Muslims.   This interpretation is not correct and is not compatible with Islam and the holy Qoran.

God says he has created human beings in different groups and they are all equal before Him and that piety is the only criterion for superiority.

Therefore in principle I am opposed to the interpretation that Muslims have separate rights.   This is not compatible with Islam.   If you kill a Muslim man and are unable to obtain a waiver from his family there is retaliation but if a non-Muslim man or woman is killed there is no retaliation and only a diyeh (blood money) is paid.

Therefore, if we have the money we can kill all Zoroastrians and Christians without facing retaliation.   Is this correct?   Is this compatible with the exalted spirit of justice in Islam?

If a Muslim woman is killed and her family wants retaliation they must pay half of the blood money of a man to the killer's family.

They say if a father or paternal ancestor kills his child there is no retaliation.   Recently we witnessed a man had killed his 15-year-old son by gun and had hidden the body.   The court sentenced him to just 2 .5 years.   How can such law be justified?

In my opinion these laws are contrary to the Islamic Human Rights Declaration and the Universal Human Rights Declaration.

On warnings by the UN Human Rights Commission to Iran: The Iranian government has received warnings because of the inconsistency of the human rights and its internal laws.

The Iranian government has undertaken to ban slavery.   In the related convention it is said that any arrangement or custom or law according to which parents or guardians have the right to contract marriage of a woman without her consent is a case of slavery and is banned.   Also every custom and law which permits a child under 18 to be given in marriage by the parents is forbidden.   The Iranian government accepts in 1958 that giving a woman in marriage without her consent is slavery.   But with deep regret when we open the book of our Civil Code in 1998 we see it is said the marriage age in Iran is 9 lunar years for girls and 15 lunar years for boys.

Apart the point that 9 lunar years is a low age for marriage the problem does not stop there.   Because the same law says the father or the paternal ancestor has the right to give a girl in marriage before the age of puberty, is less than 9 years of age.   In this way a father or a paternal ancestor has the right to give a one-month girl in marriage.

Therefore, if the UN sends a warning to us that we are acting contrary to the human rights should we get upset?   Is the (right) answer to the warning "Why are you not condemning Israel?"   "Why are you not condemning Arabia?"  and so on?

I have no argument that perhaps in some affairs and at some junctures the performance of the UN is politically motivated.   Certainly there are many countries in the would, like Israel which trample the human rights.   But is the US's and Israel's trampling the human rights authorization for our disregarding the human rights?

On the Islamic Human Rights commission (IHRC) in Iran: The IHRC, as they themselves say, is an NGO.   When an NGO is established in Iran which says it wants to monitor the implementation of the human rights in Iran one wishes that its members were non-government people and it was not working only in connection with abroad, is condemning the violation of human rights in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Israel or other places and was looking at Iran too.

I have not come across any statement by Mr. Ziaeifar or the IHRC in Iran in connection with the laws in Iran which violate the human rights and asking the Majlis to repeal those laws.   It should be pointed out that human rights is a legal and not political case.

On Mr. Abdolkarim Moussavi Lari's (vice president for legal and parliamentary affair) recent remark about political offenses and jury for political courts:

According to the Constitution, which has been secured at the price of the blood of our martyrs, political and press offenses must be attended to by the Justice Administration courts openly and in presence of a jury.

Regrettably although 20 years has passed since the victory of the Islamic Revolution this principle has not been observed.   Until now all the political offenses have been termed counter-revolutionary offenses and have been attended to at the closed revolutionary court sessions without the presence of a jury.   The examples have been in connection with Faraj Sarkouhi (writer and journalist), (Abbas) Amir Entezam (former official), etc.

But such trials, even if they lead to freedom of the accused, are not proper because they must be open and in presence of a jury.   We are pleased that our protests of several years have been paid attention to by the state and Mr. Moussavi Lari, the vice president for legal affairs, has said he is seeking the definition of political offenses and their being attended to by the Justice Administration courts and in presence of a jury.

On discriminations according to the law: The Islamic Penal Code says fornications, the vice between a woman and a man who are not married, has the penalty of 100 lashes.   But if the man is not Muslim and the woman is Muslim the penalty for the man is death.   This is a kind of inequality.   Why?   If something is bad it must be bad for everyone.   In our law sodomy is punishable by death.   Beginning of this act is punishable by lashes.   But if the active party is a non-Muslim and the passive party is a Muslim the penalty for the non-Muslim will change form lashes to death.   This is a kind of discrimination.

The penalty for qazf, falsely accusing someone of committing adultery or using abusive words about sexual decency of the family members of a Muslim, is 80 lashes whereas in the case of a non-Muslim the penalty cannot be more than 74 lashes.

If a Zoroastrian dies his estate is divided among his heirs according to the Zoroastrian codes.   But if one of the heirs becomes a Muslim he can get all the shares of the others.   Is this right?

I hope that the IHRC would talk about these laws and would ask the Majlis to repeal them.

Regrettably this principle is not observed.   Someone can kill me and later, that is when I am not present and cannot defend myself — say that I deserved death.   He can say I had talked against one of the principles and this made killing me permissible.   This in fact means disregard of presumption of innocence and disregard of the right for defense at an impartial court.

Peace prize winner 'could kill' Bush
Annabelle McDonald

NOBEL peace laureate Betty Williams displayed a flash of her feisty Irish spirit yesterday, lashing out at US President George W.Bush during a speech to hundreds of schoolchildren.

Campaigning on the rights of young people at the Earth Dialogues forum, being held in Brisbane, Ms Williams spoke passionately about the deaths of innocent children during wartime, particularly in the Middle East, and lambasted Mr Bush.

"I have a very hard time with this word 'non-violence', because I don't believe that I am non-violent," said Ms Williams, 64.

"Right now, I would love to kill George Bush." Her young audience at the Brisbane City Hall clapped and cheered.

"I don't know how I ever got a Nobel Peace Prize, because when I see children die the anger in me is just beyond belief. It's our duty as human beings, whatever age we are, to become the protectors of human life."

Ms Williams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 30 years ago, when she circulated a petition to end violence in Northern Ireland after witnessing British soldiers shoot dead an IRA member who was driving a car. He veered on to the footpath, killing two children from one family instantly and fatally injuring a third.

Ms Williams's petition had tens of thousands of Protestant and Catholic women walking the streets together in protest. Now the former office receptionist heads the World Centres of Compassion for Children International, a non-profit group working to create a political voice for children.

"My job is to tell you their stories," Ms Williams said of a recent trip to Iraq.

"We went to a hospital where there were 200 children; they were beautiful, all of them, but they had cancers that the doctors couldn't even recognise. From the first Gulf War, the mothers' wombs were infected.

"As I was leaving the hospital, I said to the doctor, 'How many of these babies do you think are going to live?'

"He looked me straight in the eye and said, 'None, not one'. They needed five different kinds of medication to treat the cancers that the children had, and the embargoes laid on by the United States and the United Nations only allowed them three."

Wrapping up the three-day forum yesterday, delegates agreed to a 26-point action plan.

"There can be no sustainable peace while the majority of the world's population lives in poverty," they said.

"There can be no sustainable peace if we fail to rise to the global challenge presented by climate change.

"There can be no sustainable peace while military spending takes precedence over human development."

© The Australian

Unspeakable grief and horror
                        ...and the circus of deception continues...
Most recent Kewe blog   click here
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Circus of Torture   2003 — now
He says, "You are quite mad, Kewe"
And of course I am.
Why, I don't believe any of it — not the bloody body, not the bloody mind, not even the bloody Universe, or is it bloody multiverse.
"It's all illusion," I say.   "Don't you know, my lad, my lassie.   The game!   The game, me girl, me boy!   Takes on interest, don't you know.   T'is me sport, till doest find a better!"
Pssssst — but all this stuff is happening down here
Let's change it!

       Civilian Death Toll in Iraq May Top 1 Million     
            —  ORB, a British polling agency, September 2007          

China EU countries Russia Japan lending money to US to the tune of $2 billion (2,000,000,000.00) daily
— Bleeding Bush strategy

US debt

Am I going insane?

Kennedy slams CIA chief        
  Iraq analysis wildly inconsistent        
     Senator we did not clear the document


Cheney: Assessment done by department of defense

Iraq analysis wildly inconsistent

Flames of war spread into Pakistan

Murder, though it hath no tongue.



Faith Fippinger

The Book of Merlyn

The beating of the drum


For archives, these articles are being stored on website.
The purpose is to advance understandings of environmental, political,
human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues.