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Fundamentals of Freedom of Movement in Iran

Introduction to Freedom of Movement Violations in Iran:

Freedom of Movement is an important human right. The freedom to move within a state and the freedom to leave a state provides individuals with the ability to freely choose their place of residence, and to freely move from one place to another. Freedom of movement often serves as a last resort of protection for those suffering persecution. This right is set forth in article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states that:

1. Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence.

2. Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own.

3. The above-mentioned rights shall not be subject to any restrictions except those which are provided by law, are necessary to protect national security, public order (ordre public), public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others, and are consistent with the other rights recognized in the present Covenant.

4. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.

Paragraphs 5 and 7 of General Comment 27 to article 12 clarify the meaning of the word "State." Paragraph 5 states that the "right to move freely relates to the whole territory of a State, including all parts of federal States." It explains that "persons are entitled to move from one place to another and to establish themselves in a place of their choice. The enjoyment of this right must not be made dependent on any particular purpose or reason for the person wanting to move or to stay in a place."

Paragraph 7 explains that an individual's "right to reside in a place of one's choice within the territory includes protection against all forms of forced internal displacement. It also precludes preventing the entry or stay of persons in a defined part of the territory." This right is, however, limited by lawful detention of persons, as defined by article 9 of the ICCPR.

Article 33 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran also protects freedom of movement, stipulating that "[n]o person may be ousted from his residence, or forbidden to reside in the locality of his choice, or compelled to reside in a particular locality, unless the law prescribes this."

While both international and Iranian law protect the right to the freedom of movement, the Islamic Republic of Iran has placed severe restrictions on the freedom to move and live throughout the State, and on the freedom to leave the State. Examples of such restrictions include placing innocent individuals under house arrest, expelling individuals from cities who have done nothing wrong, discriminating against individuals with refugee status, and prohibiting individuals from leaving the state by means of detention or simple refusal to issue valid passports or accept valid visas. These restrictions violate the ICCPR, to which Iran is a signatory, and violate Iran's Constitution.

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Tagged as:

Travel Restrictions, House Arrest