Another Step Toward Limiting Iran’s Civil Society: Iranian Police to “Organize” Activities of NGO’s

Apr 26, 20100 comments

Mohammad Reza Alipour, Deputy Tehran Police Commander said that the police intend to organize nongovernmental organizations in a “centralized” way, a signal to activists that creating new impediments and a police atmosphere over Iran ’s civil society seems to be entering a new stage. In introduction ceremonies for his new position as second in command in Tehran ’s Police Force on April 24, 2010, Alipour said: “The police’s concern is that there is insufficient supervision over citizen organizations and in some of them there is administrative chaos…There is no oversight for issuing licenses for these organizations.” The Policy Governing Procedures to Establish and Operate Non-Governmental Organizations, which was approved at a June 19, 2005 Cabinet meeting (proposed by the Ministry of Intelligence on July 30, 2004 according to Article 138 of Iranian Constitution), has defined organizations charged with oversight of non-governmental organizations. Over the past years, Governor’s Offices, Provincial Offices, and Ministry of Interior have been in charge of reviewing the qualifications of NGO’s. Members of the boards of directors of NGO’s apply for police clearance at the time of the NGO’s initial establishment, but the Interior Ministry is responsible for centralized coordination of NGO’s. The police is only directly responsible for issuing licenses of those civil society organizations that are considered charities. Over the past years, Iranian civil society organizations have raised concern over interference of police and intelligence forces as an important impediment to their operations. The Islamic Republic’s Ministry of Intelligence is one of the organizations that has expressed opinions about the establishment of many NGO’s and in many cases some NGO’s have been denied licenses due to the Ministry of Intelligence’s opinions despite the fact that their members did not have any judicial records. Considering the police and security nature of the Iranian law enforcement organization and a lack of suitable structures for organizing he activities of NGO’s, the issue of transfer of their oversight responsibilities from the Ministry of Interior or other administrative offices to a security-police organization heralds further limitations for these organizations. After Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election in 2005, Iranian civil society organizations faced serious limitations. In its first step, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s cabinet cut funding, which was earmarked for supporting NGO’s. Following this, issuing licenses for NGO’s active in human rights, women’s rights, and other legal areas was either completely eliminated or seriously cut. Some NGO’s such as the Defenders of Human Rights Center, Iranian Journalists’ Association, Institute of Volunteer Activists, NGO Training Center, Rahi Institute, and tens of other organizations were closed down over the past few years and in some cases their managers and members were arrested and imprisoned. Related information: Operational Procedures of Non-Governmental Organizations. Source: