Sanctioned: Iranian Judge Mohammed Moghiseh

By Claire Evans

01/31/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern)Last February, International Christian Concern requested that the United States Treasury Department sanction Iranian Judge Mohammed Moghiseh, a known human rights abuser who used his authority to discriminate against religious minorities, including Christians.

The following report details a casefile summary of the documentary evidence ICC collected when recommending that the US Treasury Department sanction Judge Moghiseh. He was officially sanctioned by the Treasury Department in December 2019.

Full legal name of perpetrator: Mohammed Moghiseh

Known Aliases: Haj Nasser, Naserian

Country: Islamic Republic of Iran

Title Position: Judge of Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch 28

Crime: Human Rights Abuse

Birthdate: 1955

Other known personal identifiers: N/A

Command Responsibility:  

Iran’s judiciary is a well-oiled machine of oppression enshrined within the foundation of the country’s system of governance. The Revolutionary Courts (also known as Revolutionary Tribunals) were specifically established after the 1979 Revolution to guard against any ideology which could pose a threat to Iran’s Islamic Republic. As such, their jurisdiction includes all cases relating to internal and external security, slander against the Founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and/or its Supreme Leader, conspiring against the Islamic Republic, espionage, moral corruption, and the economy.

Of the 250 cases of Christians arrested analyzed by International Christian Concern, an estimated 73% of the arrests fell under the jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Courts.

The constitution lays out two main qualifications for judges: they must be faithful to the system of Iran’s Islamic Republic and they must have obtained approved training in religious law from a theological seminary. An extra constitutional article provides an additional qualification for Revolutionary Court judges: they must be recruited from religious seminaries with the equivalent of a high school diploma and their personal qualifications must be approved at the discretion of the Supreme Judicial Council.

Iran’s previous Judicial Chief, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, assumed office in 2009 and served until 2019. The European Union sanctioned him in 2012 for endorsing harsh punishments as well as allowing vague prosecutions for crimes against God and the state. The United States levied sanctions against him in 2018. As judicial chief, his actions set the example by which the other Revolutionary Court judges were expected to follow.

Iran’s judges consider cases based on a combination of both codified law and Fatwas (personalized Islamic religious opinions), making their verdicts unpredictable and undermining the principle of equality before codified legislation. Because the primary purpose of the Revolutionary Court is to protect the security of the Islamic Republic, the inner workings of each branch is often heavily censored and thus the judicial process lacks transparency.

Mohammed Moghiseh presides as the head judge of Revolutionary Court Branch 28. This branch is based in Tehran Province. Judge Moghiseh’s career trajectory demonstrates that his human rights abuses are validated and encouraged by the regime:

  • 1982 – 1985: Assistant Prosecutor of Branch 3 of Evin Prison
  • 1985 – 1986: Supervisor of Ghezelhesar Prison
  • 1986 – 1988: Supervising Assistant Prosecutor and Head of Gohardasht Prison
  • 1988 – 1990: Assistant Prosecutor of Evin Prison
  • Early 1990s: Head of Veil and Satellite Court in Tehran
  • Early 2000s – Present: Head of Branch 28 of the Tehran Islamic Revolutionary Court

Judge Moghiseh’s current position as head of such an influential court, the constitutional duties of this court, his career trajectory, and the selection process which he was subjected to for this position clearly demonstrate that he was selected for this position with the intent of enforcing a legal system which promotes human rights abuses and that he has maintained this position because of his success in meeting these standards.

His record of human rights abuses has been recognized by the international community. He has been sanctioned by the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

As head of Revolutionary Court Branch 28, Judge Moghiseh has failed to use his command responsibility to prevent religious freedom and other human rights abuses. His position allows him to maintain close contact with other human rights abusers within the Iranian regime. He has ignored this knowledge of human rights abuses and has instead failed to prevent, halt, or investigate these abuses. Rather, he has actively chosen to participate in leading these abuses. His active participation in religious freedom violations is in direct contradiction to Iran’s constitution, which protects the civil rights of religious minorities.

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