Defects still challenge law on upholding rangers’ right

July 14, 2019

TEHRAN – Although the law to uphold the rights of rangers has raised hope among those spent a lifetime to defend the nature, it still has many defects, former commander of Tehran province’s environment protection unit has said.

A long-awaited bill to protect the rights of rangers including rules on carrying and use of firearms, was approved by Majlis [Iranian parliament] on June 24.

The bill was drafted in July 2016 by the Department of Environment following the death of two rangers, Mohammad Dehqani and Parviz Hormozi, who were killed in June 2016 during an armed conflict with poachers in Hormozgan province. It has been approved by the judiciary committee of Majlis in September 2018.

As per the proposed bill the rangers would not face charges in case of involuntarily manslaughter while on duty and would be compensated for the losses they suffer while trying to protect the environment and the biodiversity, the government is required to allocate budget to help those rangers who might be obliged to pay out blood money or other sort of money-penalty compensation for murder or any injuries trespassers may suffer in armed conflicts with them, and the rangers will be provided with regular insurance coverage and are entitled to compensation for the losses they suffer while doing their job.

The bill on protecting the rangers’ rights was not comprehensive and the issues of payment and legal problems remained unresolved, ISNA quoted Naqi Mirza-Karimi as saying on Sunday.

In the field of carrying and use of firearms, the law does not add a new issue, and only repeats the existing rules, he said, adding, although the previous gun rules did not function properly, and the only advantage of current gun rules is ensuring that rangers can use weapons during the armed conflicts and when needed.

Also, no new authority has been given to the rangers in terms of using firearms, and the conditions for the use of weapons by the rangers are no different from those previous ones, he lamented.

The most important part, and perhaps the only benefit of the bill, is Article 2 that is related to the necessity of insurance coverage for the rangers and supporting the volunteer defenders of the environment, he highlighted.

He went on to explain that of course, in terms of social insurance, it should be noted that before the adoption of the bill, the DOE sought for insurance coverage of all the rangers, and the issue is currently being pursued.

Mirza-Karimi criticized the bill for disregarding the issue of payment raise for the environmental defenders, emphasizing that unfortunately, no increase in wages or salaries is mentioned through the bill.

The issue of increasing the salaries of the forces, which was supposed to be one of the main issues in the bill, was excluded from the law, he regretted, adding, there was no news about improving the livelihood of the rangers in the law.

He went on to add that under the law, rangers receive insurance benefits after death, illness, limb deficiencies, long-term disability and accidents.

He also emphasized that unfortunately the bill does not mention the rangers’ employment contracts, and it is unclear what is going to happen for those who have been serving more than 10 years in remote locations, impassable mountainous areas or desert hills.

Referring to the current payment problems, he noted that one of the other biggest challenge the rangers face in their career is payment delays, which must be pursued by an inspection team.

The lack of law enforcement is the main reason behind the rangers’ problems, even if a bill is approved and turned to a law, it should be enforced, otherwise it does not have value, he explained.

“I am not pleased with the bill’s approval; as the name suggests that a bill has been passed to support the rangers, while none of the requirements in the bill has been taken into consideration, neither the payment problems nor legal inconsistencies of gun rules,” he regretted.

In my point of view, the bill was a golden opportunity that is lost and it is hard to find another similar opportunity, he added.

He further called on the related officials to register the national ranger’s day concurrent with birthday of Imam Reza (AS) in the country’s official calendar in order to respect those dedicated a lifetime to defend the environment.

Some 123 rangers have been killed while protecting the environment sine 1979 in Iran. 

Multiple deaths and injuries of the rangers occur while trying to safeguard the environment and wildlife. Rangers who risk their lives protecting the environment and wildlife sometimes fall victims by getting into fight with poachers and may either suffer severe wounds, get killed, or charged with involuntary manslaughter.

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