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Iranian Hard-Liners OK Anti-Torture Law

5 May 2004 -- Iranian state television reports that a bill to ban torture in Iran has become law after its approval by the hard-line Guardians Council.

Iran's reformist-dominated parliament approved the bill yesterday.

State television said the bill was then approved by the 12-man Guardians Council, which has vetoed dozens of pro-reform bills.

Guardians Council spokesman Ebrahim Azizi was quoted as saying on state television that the council scrutinized the bill for its compliance with Islamic law and the Iranian Constitution and did not find it contradictory.

Parliament passed the anti-torture bill after the head of the hard-line judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, last week issued an order to police and security officials, calling for an end to torture.

Iran's constitution outlaws the use of torture, but human rights groups claim the Islamic Republic's security forces routinely use it to extract confessions.