People in Qom, Iran.  Editorial credit: Irtiza Hashmi /


The Islamic Republic of Iran holds elections regularly, but they fall short of democratic standards due in part to the influence of the hard-line Guardian Council, an unelected body that disqualifies all candidates it deems insufficiently loyal to the clerical establishment. Ultimate power rests in the hands of the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the unelected institutions under his control. These institutions, including the security forces and the judiciary, play a major role in the suppression of dissent and other restrictions on civil liberties.

Freedom in the World 2021

Freedom in the World — Iran Country Report

Iran is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2021, Freedom House's annual study of political rights and civil liberties worldwide.

Iran country flag over Tehran

Countries in the Spotlight

Freedom in the World's Countries in the Spotlight features countries that experienced important developments in 2019 that affected their democratic trajectory, and deserve special scrutiny in 2020. In Iran, security forces killed hundreds of people and arrested thousands in a bid to stamp out antigovernment protests, and authorities set a worrying new precedent with a near-complete internet shutdown that suppressed media coverage and ordinary communications during the crisis. View the full report to learn about the other Countries in the Spotlight.

A young woman wearing a protective mask looks at her smartphone while passing by a grafitti representing two big watching eyes in Berlin, Germany on April 1, 2020. Illustrative Editorial (Photo by Emmanuele Contini/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Freedom on the Net— Iran Country Report

Iran is rated Not Free in Freedom on the Net, Freedom House's comprehensive study of internet freedom around the globe.