Key Results of UNODC Cooperation on Rule of Law in the Islamic Republic of Iran (2005-2010)
The independent evaluations of UNODC crime prevention and criminal justice activities carried out in 2005-2010 highlight both the relevance and the positive impact of UNODC project activities. Technical cooperation brought about important results in legislation, institution and capacity-building.
Between 2003 and 2006 UNODC Iran launched two projects intended to assist the government in fulfilling the objectives of Iran's Second Judicial Reform Plan (2004-2009). Developed in collaboration with the Iranian Judiciary, the activities elicited strong donor interest. In 2007, a third major project meant to strengthen the capacity of the Islamic. Republic of Iran to tackle transnational organized crime and money laundering and to promote mutual legal assistance was initiated.
During a visit sponsored by UNODC in July 2004, senior Iranian judges were offered the opportunity to learn from the experience of a judicial reform in Singapore. The following year, a study mission to UNODC Headquarters exposed top-ranking judicial officers and policy makers to the legal, organizational and operational aspects of judicial reform. A subsequent workshop on best international practices of judicial conduct and integrity was attended by 35 top-ranking judicial officers. In 2007, an international conference on reducing the use of incarceration was held in Tehran to promote alternatives to imprisonment. Participants included representatives of the Prisons Organization, the Judiciary and of an NGO active in the prison system.
In cooperation with UNICEF, UNODC organized in 2008 a specialized workshop on building juvenile justice information systems. This initiative was complemented by the translation and distribution by UNODC of a compendium of UN standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice and other reference material on international legal instruments and best practices.
To promote public access to information, UNODC helped to establish "Centre 129", a telephone and audio-legal post providing free legal advice to the general public. Since its launch in 2005, the post has answered an average of 1 million queries a year. To improve automation, four comparative studies on the status of legislation were carried out to identify any loopholes for the development of an electronic court system network. Subsequently, in 2008, information and communication technology and training were provided for the establishment of a pilot e-court in Tehran province. An online facility was also established to access the entire Tehran judiciary archive, including sentences.
Anti-corruption work started in 2006 with an assessment of the status of anti-corruption initiatives and the role of the Judiciary. This led to the drafting of a strategy to prevent and counter corruption in the Islamic Republic of Iran, followed in 2007 by the launch of a UNODC project, the ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the engagement of the Government in follow-up activities.
In January 2008, the anti-money laundering bill was enacted by the Iranian Parliament. In September 2009, the Islamic Republic of Iran established a computer-based Training Centre on anti money laundering and financing of terrorism based on UNODC software. The main task of the Centre is to provide training to all practitioners operating in both the public and private sectors. Some 50 officers, including Central Bank officials benefited from the three courses held in 2010. In December 2009, the executive Anti Money Laundry bylaw was promulgated and in February 2010, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Iran was established with UNODC technical assistance. The mentioned Training Centre became part of it. The launch of the FIU was a landmark development. High-level representatives of the Judiciary, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Intelligence, the Central Bank and the diplomatic corps attended the event. The Unit operates independently under the umbrella of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance and collaborates with the Judiciary in investigating suspicious transactions and in prosecuting offenders.
UNODC and FIU launched in January 2010 the "FIU to FIU programme" to promote international cooperation with partner agencies in other countries. Memorandums of understanding have been signed with Armenia in 2010, and Brazil and Slovenia in 2011. Similar agreements are under consideration with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey, as well as several European, Asian and South-American countries. In July 2010, UNODC assisted in convening the first Triangular Meeting among representatives of the Afghan, Iranian and Pakistani FIUs in Tehran. The exchanges were promising in promoting new fronts for cooperation among justice administrations under the UNODC brokered Triangular Initiative. The meeting defined the basis for operative cooperation to tackle illicit financial flows linked to the production and trafficking of opiates, for the signing of collaboration agreements on all aspects of financial intelligence and for technical-level missions.
Starting in October 2007, UNODC began organizing seminars and workshops to allow Iranian authorities to familiarize themselves with the purpose and contents of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. This led to the identification of priorities such as witness protection, contraband and illicit trade in art and antiques and to the formal ratification of the Convention. Being the latter still pending, UNODC assisted international affairs and codification officers of the Iranian Judiciary in learning about the measures taken by other countries to ensure that their laws conform to the requirements of the Convention. A modern database on organized crime has also constituted an essential building block for national capacity and for the exchange of information with foreign judicial authorities. Expert advice was provided by UNODC for a study on the establishment of such database. The resulting blueprint was forwarded to the Iranian Judiciary in May 2009. The database is currently under development by the Judiciary's experts according to the methodology and technical provisions of the blueprint.
UNODC activities turned to strengthen the mutual legal assistance capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran focused on the global fight against organized crime and money laundering. Between 2007 and 2010 UNODC thematic seminars and study missions brought Iranian stakeholders into contact with the judicial authorities responsible for such matters in other countries. In Italy, the visitors learned about mutual legal assistance related to organized crime, in Thailand the emphasis was on drug-related issues, while in Austria the focus was on European cooperation and relations with countries following Islamic law and practices. In February 2010 training was provided at UNODC Headquarters in Vienna on the performance and management of mutual legal assistance activities and on the UNODC Mutual Legal Assistance tool, which is currently in use for the Financial Intelligence Unit. The Iranian Judiciary is expected to formally designate a focal point on mutual legal assistance shortly. Finally, UNODC has assisted the Islamic Republic of Iran in revitalizing a long-standing mutual legal assistance agreement with Italy, while a memorandum of understanding on judicial matters has been signed with Thailand on 10 August 2010.
The independent evaluations of UNODC crime prevention and criminal justice activities, carried out in 2005-2010, observed that the Islamic Republic of Iran focused its efforts more on drug smuggling than on transnational organized crime. The evaluators recommended the launch of a strategic threat assessment (STA) exercise on transnational organized crime and money-laundering and their internal/international ramifications. It is also recommended that the STA should be used to appraise legislative and mutual legal assistance requirements, capabilities and resources to meet identified challenges. The evaluation report encouraged UNODC and the international community to continue to support national efforts to fully implement the UNCAC, ratify the UNTOC, make further progress in the AML regime and promote regional and international cooperation.