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Silencing the Women's Rights Movement in Iran

will not be permitted to leave the country" until the restriction on the persons traveling is lifted." 357

The right to freedom of movement is enshrined in human rights instruments" 358 and the United Nations Human Rights Commission has stated that it is "an indispensable condition for the free development of a person."359 Freedom of movement includes the right to travel and choose a residence within a state, the right to leave a state, and the right to enter one's state.360 States that violate individuals' freedom of movement must provide remedies.361

However, Mohammad Saleh Nikbakht, an Iranian attorney who has represented people who were banned from leaving Iran , reports that in recent cases, it appears there was no judge's order putting the ban in place. "Political and human rights activists, artists, writers and other civil activists … have been exit banned. However, no reason or reasons for their exit ban has so far been issued to them." Nikbakht adds that such people are then referred to various organs for follow up on their case but to no avail. According to Nikbakht, the authority issuing the ban is never announced.362

Activists who are not in judicial proceedings have had their passports confiscated at the airport. For example, in May 2010, Simin Behbahani, the 83-year-old Iranian poet was prevented from travelling to Paris.363 As with her case, there is little to no indication that the banned individuals constitute legitimate security threats based on either their activities or their affiliations. As such, these travel bans appear violate Iranian and international human rights law and simply serve to intimidate and control activists.


The Iranian government continues to target women's rights activists in an effort to dismantle the movement in violation of Iranian and international law. Its agents continue to arrest, interrogate, mistreat, threaten and imprison activists because of their beliefs, membership in organizations, participation in demonstrations, and other advocacy. Activists continue to be forced into hiding or exile.

[357] Id.
[358] See, e.g., Universal Declaration of Human Rights, arts. 9, 13, G.A. Res. 217 A (III), Dec. 10, 1948, available at www.un.org/Overview/rights.html (last visited June 15, 2010) [hereinafter UDHR]; ICCPR supra note 275, art. 12; Protocol No. 4 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, E.T.S. No. 46, entered into force May 2, 1968, available at http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/EN/Treaties/html/046.htm [hereafter ECHR P4].
[359] U.N. Human Rights Comm., General Comment No. 27, Article 12: Freedom of Movement, ¶1, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.9 (Nov. 2, 1999), available at http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.9.
[361] See, e.g., ICCPR, supra note 273, art. 2(3). There are certain conditions in which the State is permitted to restrict the individual's ability to travel. A state may only legally restrict individuals' movement if (1) the restriction is in accordance with domestic law; (2) the restriction has a legitimate aim, e.g., to "protect national security, public order…, public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others"; and (3) the restriction is "necessary in a democratic society," i.e., the restriction was proportionate to the aim. Id. art. 12(3).
[362] Vaghti Hukm-i Mamnu'ul Khuruji bar Istidlal-i Qanuni Micharbad [When the Travel Ban Order is Stronger than Legal Justification], Deutsche Welle, Dec. 25, 2009, available at http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5056417,00.html.
[363] See supra notes 264-65 and accompanying text. See also supra note 154 (Parvin Ardalan). See also supra notes 115, 266-67 and accompanying text (Narges Mohammadi, Soraya Azizpanah, Zhina Modares Gorji, and Mansoureh Behkish).

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Sexual Violence, Gender Rights, Death Penalty, Political Killings, Executions, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Personal Liberty, Arbitrary Detention, Travel Restrictions, Due Process, Right to an Attorney, Illegal Search and Seizure, Free Speech, Right to Protest, Protests, Free Association, Child Rights, Political Freedom, Equality Before the Law, Discrimination