Nasrin Sotoodeh Banned from Travel; Husband Accepts HR Award on her Behalf

Sunday 14 December 2008

Change for Equality: Nasrin Sotoodeh, lawyer and women’s rights activist, was banned from travel and her passport confiscated as she was leaving the country to participate in an award ceremony in her honor scheduled to take place on the 12th of June in the city of Merano in Italy. Nasrin Sotoodeh has been selected as the recipient of the International Human Rights Prize, awarded by the Organization Human Rights International. While she was prevented from travel her husband and daughter attended the ceremony and accepted the award on her behalf.

In an interview with the site of Change for Eqaulity, Stoodeh explained that the usual illegal tactics were used by authorities to prevent her from travel, explaining further that: "on Wedensday the 10th of December I passed through the passport control at the airport with no problems. After going through the passport control I heard my name being paged and was approached by an individual who identified himself as an official representing the Office of the President. This official initially refused to present any identification, but after a while and because of my insistence presented me with identification. He then proceeded to confiscate my passport and explained that a travel ban had been issued for me in relation to an open case pending against me. This illegal action resulted in my not being able to go Italy to receive my award. While my small son and I have stayed behind and I will not be able to participate in the Award ceremony my husband and daughter have gone to Italy where they will receive the award on my behalf."

Sotoodeh who is a lawyer representing a number of women’s rights activists involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign, explained further that: "what is astonishing in these types of travel bans [imposed on activists] is the fact that all sentences [in this case travel bans] can only be implemented after they have been officially served. None of the court sentences barring activists from travel have been served to the accused or their lawyers and this is an illegal approach. The fact that I passed through the passport control gate demonstrates that I was not banned from travel, and it is surprising and a questionable that the act of barring social and women’s rights activists is being carried out by officials associated with the Office of the President. This Office is required to oversee the appropriate implementation of the law, but here it has engaged in such actions without observing the law."

Reza Khandan, Nasrin Sotoodeh’s husband received the human rights award issued to his spouse in a ceremony on the 12th of December. In a statement issued by Sotoodeh and read during the ceremony, this human rights defender explained that: "activists involved in the student, workers, teachers, women and minority movements face many legal challenges imposed by the courts." Specifically she pointed to the fact that laws which allow for the labeling and trying in court of political and social activists as moharebeh (enmity against God) which carries the death penalty, is a serious problem faced by civil society activists. Additionally in her speech, Ms. Sotoodeh explained that the lawyers representing social activists face many problems and restrictions as well.

In the acceptance speech which was read in her absence, Ms. Sotoodeh also explained that women’s rights activists in Iran face serious consequences for their activism, such as: "arrest, summons, sentences and travel bans."

Nasrin Sotoodeh’s travel ban constitutes the fifth of such travel bans imposed on women’s rights activists involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign. Prior to this, Parvin Ardalan, Sussan Tahmasebi, Mansoureh Shojaee, and Talaat Taghinia were barred from travel in a similar illegal manner.

Read news related to Award issued to Nasrin Sotoodeh


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