Iran has filed a case against Canada at the United Nations’ top court accusing it of flouting state immunity in allowing relatives of victims of terrorism to seek reparations from the Islamic Republic
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Iran has filed a case against Canada at the United Nations’ top court accusing it of flouting state immunity in allowing relatives of victims of terrorism to seek reparations from the Islamic Republic.
In its case announced Wednesday by the International Court of Justice, Tehran argues that Canada is “obliged to respect the jurisdictional immunity which Iran enjoys under international law” and should not allow civil claims against Iran “for alleged support to, or acts of, terrorism.”
Canada also should not allow its courts to recognize foreign judgments in terrorism cases linked to Iran and has no right to seize Iranian property in order to enforce such judgments, the written filing says.
Among the Canadian cases cited in Iran’s written filing is a ruling by the Ontario Superior Court that the Iranian military’s downing on Jan. 8, 2020, of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 with two surface-to-air missiles constituted an “act of terrorism.” All 176 people on board were killed.
Over 100 of the Iranian victims had Canadian citizenship or residency, prompting some families of the victims to sue Iran in a Canadian civil court.
Designating the shootdown a terror act allowed a group of families to bypass Iran’s legal immunity and seek compensation for their losses. Foreign nations are ordinarily immune from suits in Canadian courts.
The court awarded a total of 107 million Canadian dollars — 7 million Canadian dollars in compensatory damages on top of 100 million Canadian dollars in punitive damages — plus interest to families that launched the suit in Ontario.
Just hours before the shootdown, Iran had fired ballistic missiles at American bases in Iraq in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.
After days of denial, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard publicly apologized for the downing and blamed it on an air defense operator who authorities said mistook the Boeing 737-800 for an American cruise missile.
Iran’s case at the world court, based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, is likely to take years. The court’s rulings are final and legally binding.