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Iranian Law Enforcement Forces (LEF)
a.k.a. Law Enforcement Forces Of The Islamic Republic Of Iran
a.k.a. Iranian Police
a.k.a. Niru-ye entezami-ye jomhuri-ye eslami-ye Iran
a.k.a. NAJA
a.k.a. Niruyih Intizamiyeh Jumhuriyih Islamiyih Iran [IRAN-HR]

Commonly referred to as Iran’s national police, the Law Enforcement Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran or Disciplinary Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Persian: Niru-ye entezami-ye jomhuri-ye eslami-ye Iran), abbreviated as NAJA, is the uniformed police force in Iran. Although exact official figures are not available, it is generally estimated by 2004 that the number of personnel of the LEF amounted to about 100,000 to 120,000. A 2013 CRS report, however, mentions that the law enforcement forces on duty comprise about 40,000-60,000 persons. While are no official statistics on police personnel, but there other reports that the police have 300,000 personnel, approximately 50 percent of whom are conscripts [Saeid Golkar, “Organization of the Oppressed or Organization for Oppressing: Analysing the Role of the Basij Militia of Iran,”Politics, Religion & Ideology 13, Issue 4 (2012): 455–471].

Several agencies share responsibility for law enforcement and maintaining order, including the Ministry of Intelligence and Security and Law Enforcement Forces under the Interior Ministry, which report to the president, and the IRGC, which reports directly to the supreme leader. The supreme leader holds ultimate authority over all security agencies. the chief of staff of NAJA is directly appointed by the Supreme Leaderand in turn appoints the higher echelons of police officers.

The Iranian police, which developed into a modern disciplinary force during the Pahlavi era (1925–79), initially consisted of two main forces: the urban police(shahrbani) and rural police (gendarmerie). The city police and the gendarmerie (country-side police) were founded by the Shah and therefore were under permanent suspicion for lack of allegiance towards the new order. The revolutionary committees were an offspring of the revolution and responsible for pursuing drug-dealers, oppositionists and anti-Islamic lawbreakers.

The administration of President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, which came to power in 1989, tried to reconstruct Iran’s economy and reduce government spending. One of Rafsanjani’s initiatives was the merger of parallel state organizations, including in the security and military apparatus. In 1990, Iran’s Parliament passed a law requiring the government to combine four differentforces—the Islamic Revolutionary Committees, shahrbani, the gendarmerie, andthe judicial police — to form a centralized modern police force. The new force became operational in April 1991. It was charged with combined duties of law enforcement, border control, and maintaining public order. Although administratively part of the Ministry of the Interior, the Supreme Leader must approve the nominee that the President proposes for LEF chief.

The merger failed to meet the objectives of achieving a greater degree of effectiveness in the up-keeping of law and order and the protection of the citizens by building up a new de-politicised force. To the contrary, within the newly established LEF, the regular Shah-trained police forces were sidelined and all influential positions in the LEF were assigned to former committees-members. This paved the way for an increase in the number of IRGC commanders appointed to Iran’s police — and for their domination of NAJA’s high- and middle-level management.

Ayatollah Khamenei appointed Brigadier General Esmail Ahmadi Moqaddam as the new head of NAJA in 2005. Like all but the first of his predecessors, Ahmadi Moqaddamwas an IRGC commander; he had led the Basij militia in Tehran. Because of Moqaddam’s background in the civil militia Basij, the police under his leadership heavily recruited from Basij ranks. According to Moqaddam, more than 75 percent of the new police recruits in 2006 and more than 80 percent in 2007 were selected from the Basij force. The police chief stressed that “in the upcoming year, 100 per cent of the new forces of the police should be from the Basij.”

Units within the LEF have overlapping responsibilities. NAJA has three main branches: the Police Commandership (farmandehi), the Ideological-Political Organization (sazman-e aghidati va siyasi), and the Counterintelligence Organization (sazman-e hefazat-e ettelaat). While the Office of the Representative of the Supreme Leader is responsible for indoctrinating police personnel, the Counterintelligence Organization is responsible for identifying foreign spies and corrupt police, as well as for guarding police intelligence and other traditional counterintelligence tasks.

The Social Corruption Unit of the LEF deals with social behaviour considered ‘immoral’. However, there is a similar unit in the LEF called the Edareyeh Amaken Omumi (Public Establishments Office), which concerns itself with the type of music people listen to, the interaction of people of the opposite sex in public places and various forms of perceived lewd behaviour. The latter group came to prominence after arresting and questioning journalists. RAHVAR is a vice chancellor of Iran’s police (NAJA) at national level. It has sub directories in every province which are divided into two directories. One directory is responsible for traffic supervision in urban area and the other is about rural area that perform its tasks in police stations placed alongside the main roads.

Authorities commonly used arbitrary arrests to impede alleged antiregime activities. Individuals often remained in detention facilities for long periods without charges or trials, and authorities sometimes prevented them from informing others of their whereabouts for several days. Authorities often denied detainees’ access to legal counsel and imposed travel bans on individuals released on bail or pending trial. Detainees are entitled to appeal their sentences in courts of law, but are not entitled to compensation for detention and were often held for extended periods without any legal proceedings. Pretrial detention was often arbitrarily lengthy, particularly in cases involving alleged violations of national security laws. A judge may prolong detention at his discretion, and pretrial detention often lasted for months. Often authorities held pretrial detainees in custody with the general prison population.

The government’s human rights record remained extremely poor and worsened in several key areas. Human rights issues included executions for crimes not meeting the international legal standard of “most serious crimes” and without fair trials of individuals, including juvenile offenders; numerous reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings, forced disappearance, and torture by government agents; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; systematic use of arbitrary detention and imprisonment, including hundreds of political prisoners; unlawful interference with privacy; severe restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet, including censorship, site blocking, and criminalization of libel; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, such as overly restrictive nongovernmental organization (NGO) laws; egregious restrictions of religious freedom; restrictions on political participation; widespread corruption at all levels of government; unlawful recruitment of child soldiers by government actors to support the Assad regime in Syria; trafficking in persons; harsh governmental restrictions on the rights of women and minorities; criminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) status or conduct; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting LGBTI persons; and outlawing of independent trade unions.

Authorities continued to carry out executions for crimes not meeting the international legal standard of “most serious crimes.” Although the majority of executions were reportedly for murder during the year, the law also provides for the death penalty in cases of conviction for “attempts against the security of the state,” “outrage against high-ranking officials,” moharebeh (which has a variety of broad interpretations, including “waging war against God”), fisad fil-arz (corruption on earth, including apostasy or heresy), rape, adultery, recidivist alcohol use, consensual same-sex sexual conduct, and “insults against the memory of Imam Khomeini and against the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic.”

The Statute of the Revolutionary Guards Corps Forces states, in Article 2, that the force is mandated, among other things, to combat ‘agents or movements which intend to destroy or overthrow the Islamic Republic system or act against Iran’s Islamic Revolution’. The Revolutionary Guards also ‘cooperate with the police forces, in necessary situations, in order to maintain order, security and rule of law in the country’. The Statute stipulates that the forces shall act as ‘judicial officers’ in undertaking this mandate. By using vaguely formulated and broad phrases such as ‘acting against Iran’s Islamic Revolution” the Statute gives these forces the power to make arrests and conduct investigations in relation to a wide range of activities that are deemed to pose a risk to the state.

The LEF counterintelligence unit is involved in the investigation of corruption. It is part of the LEF's role to coordinate on internal security matters with the Ministry of Intelligence (MOI). On 24 January 2011, Press TV reported on the creation of a cyber police unit within the Iranian police force. Iran's police chief said the first cyber police unit of the country had been launched as part of an effort to confront Internet crimes and protect national interests. Brigadier General Esmail Ahmadi-Moqaddam said that Iran's first web police unit is now operational in the Iranian capital, Tehran, and police stations throughout the country will have their cyber units by the end of the current Iranian year (March 20). Addressing the inaugural ceremony of the new force, head of the newly founded unit Brigadier General Kamal Hadianfar said the growth and influence of the Internet indicate the rapidly growing inclination towards cyberspace, but information technology entails both threats and opportunities.

The LEF is one of the Government of Iran’s main security apparatus for maintaining domestic stability and played a key role in the government crackdown on protesters in the aftermath of the June 2009 election. Under the command of Ismail Ahmadi Moghadam, also designated today, the LEF was involved in the attack on the Tehran University dormitories in Tehran during which more than 100 people were wounded and subsequently transferred to a detention area where they suffered physical abuse at the hands of the LEF.

The LEF operated the notorious Kahrizak detention center, which was the site of serious human rights abuses against prisoners detained in the post-election protests, including assault and battery, and the deprivation of basic needs such as medical care, ultimately resulting in the deaths of three detainees.

Following the 2009 postelection protests, during which opposition activists used the Internet and social media to document police crackdowns, the Iranian regime identified and arrested many bloggers and activists through the use of advanced monitoring systems. In January 2012, the LEF issued new regulations requiring owners of Internet cafes to install closed circuit television cameras and to register the identity and contact details of users before allowing them to use their computers. Given the LEF’s history of serious human rights abuses, its efforts to monitor the Iranian public can reasonably be assumed to assist in or enable human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran.

On 09 June 2011 the Departments of the Treasury and State imposed sanctions against three entities and one individual at the core of Iran’s security apparatus for being responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses in Iran since the June 2009 disputed presidential election. Today’s action targeted Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Basij Resistance Force (Basij), and Iran’s national police and its Chief – all of which share responsibility for the sustained and severe violation of human rights in Iran.

“Today’s action exposes Iran’s willingness to turn the machinery of the state, at its highest levels, against its own people to violently suppress their democratic aspirations,” said OFAC Director Adam Szubin. “As long as this denial of basic human rights continues, we will remain vigilant in our efforts to isolate those responsible from the international financial system.”

Today’s action was taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13553, signed by President Obama in September 2010, targeting human rights abuses engaged in by officials of the Government of Iran and persons acting on behalf of the Government of Iran since the June 2009 election. As a result of today’s action, any property in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which the designees have an interest is blocked, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. The designees, and all members of the designated entities, are also subject to visa sanctions by the Department of State.

The LEF has provided material support to the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate and dispatched personnel to Damascus in April to assist the Syrian government in suppressing the Syrian people. In April 2011, Ahmad-Reza Radan, the deputy chief of Iran’s LEF, traveled to Damascus, where he met with Syrian security services and provided expertise to aid in the Syrian government's crackdown on the Syrian people.

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Page last modified: 24-07-2019 19:20:29 ZULU