Seven Members of Center of Human Rights Defenders Banned From Traveling Abroad

Apr 21, 20100 comments

With the travel ban of Hadi Esmaeelzadeh, a member of the Center of Human Rights Defenders, currently seven members of this human rights organization have been barred from leaving Iran. Some of the other members of the organization who have been banned from traveling abroad are Abdolfattah Soltani, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Mohammad Seifzadeh, and Narges Mohammadi. Security and judicial authorities have told some members of the Center that when the 2003 Noble Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi who heads the organization returns to Iran, she too will be barred from traveling abroad. Limitations on foreign travel are defined in Article 133 of Iranian Procedures for Criminal Prosecution: “taking into account the weight of the evidence underlying the charges brought against the accused, a court can … issue an order to ban the accused of traveling abroad.” None of the above mentioned individuals have had any cases which could lead to their travel ban. A source close to Center of Human Rights Defenders told International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran: “Travel bans on prominent lawyers who accepted pro bono human rights cases and defended political prisoners and journalists and others who had no means to a fair trial because of security and judical policies, is a completely political and illegal move. This move’s only objective is to put pressure on human rights defenders and to suppress political and social activists and lacks judicial basis.” Background: Center of Human Rights Defenders was sealed off after it was stormed by security forces on December 22, 2008. In a December 24, 2008 letter to Iranian government, UN’s Deputy High Commissioner of Human Rights expressed deep concern over received news about the attack on Center for Human Rights Defenders offices in Tehran, which is under Ms. Ebadi’s management. The Deputy High Commissioner wrote to Iranian authorities again on January 3, 2009, expressing further concern about reports of attack on Ms. Ebadi’s residence, asking the Iranian government to guarantee free activities of Human Rights Defenders in Iran, without intimidation, abuse, or mistreatment. The Deputy High Commissioner also asked the Iranian government to order immediate re-opening of the Center of Defense of Human Rights offices in Iran, and to guarantee the organization’s legal standing, and to return all documents and items which had been removed from Ms. Ebadi’s legal practice. On January 4, 2009, the Secretary General asked for immediate action to guarantee the health of Ms. Ebadi in order to prevent further abuse and mistreatment. On January 5, 2009, Iranian authorities replied to High Commissioner on Human Rights Office, saying that Center of Human Rights Defenders had applied for an initial permit for establishing the Center, but had been unable to provide the requisite 52 documents in support of the application, required by law. The authorities stated that they had sent a letter to the Center of Human Rights Defenders about this in August 2007 and pursuant to a lack of compliance, the Prosecutor’s Office had issued a legal order for closure and sealing of the Center. The authorities indicated that Ms. Ebadi and her colleagues were able to complete their legitimate legal actions. Frequent meetings, statements and foreign travels of Ms. Ebadi and her colleagues, such as trips to Geneva, are explicit manifestations of the organization’s rights, especially under the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. You can also refer to the report on “Conditions of Human Rights in Islamic Republic of Iran.” []