This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Canada, Re-Engaging with the Iranian Republic

"The JVTA [Justice for Victims of Terror Act] continues to do its job in holding Iran -- the world's most egregious state sponsor of terror - accountable for its terrorist crimes."
"As Canada seeks to re-engage Iran it is critical that Iran continue to be held to account in Canadian courts for its terrorism and human rights abuses."
Danny Eisen, Canadian Coalition Against Terror

"Terrorism is one of the world's greatest threats. The broad issue before the court is whether Iran is entitled to immunity from the jurisdiction of Canadian courts for its support of terrorism."
"The failure to provide any reasonable explanation for Iran's failure to defend these motions suggests to me that the defendants were attempting to gain a procedural advantage and were gaming the system."
Justice Glenn Hainey, Ontario Superior Court
©2002 Reuters/Nir Elias 
Emergency workers attend victims of a bomb blast at Hebrew University

And so the court ruling has come down, making the Iranian government responsible for its role in funding, arming and inciting terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah -- to make financial sacrifices of Islamic Republic properties in court-ordered compensation to victims of terrorism. While diplomatic buildings in Ottawa owned by Iran will be unaffected, non-diplomatic properties along with a list of bank accounts have been awarded to the victims of terror groups supported by Iran.

This ruling represents the first challenge of the Justice for Victims of Terror Act, in Canada, where the law, enacted in 2012 allows for victims to demand and collect damages from state sponsors of terror groups. And since Canada has officially designated both Iran and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism, one might say this particular chicken has come home to roost. Traditionally, under diplomatic conventions, foreign governments had state immunity from civil courts.

But the JVTA law stripped immunity from Iran and Syria. The first challenge to Iran using that law came from Americans whose daughter Marla Bennett, 24, was killed when a Hamas suicide bomber detonated explosives at the Hebrew University Cafeteria in 2002. They filed a wrongful death suit in the U.S., arguing that Iran was responsible since it gave Hamas $15-million monthly in operating funding and had trained its operatives. The court in the U.S. was in agreement, awarding the family $13-million.

The number of American cases has depleted the Iranian holdings that could be dissolved to pay the victims' families, leaving them to turn to Canada with the passing of the JVTA. In time, victims of eight terrorist attacks filed suit in Canada, including victims of Hezbollah, the Lebanese proxy group carrying out Iranian terrorist assaults. Judgements resulted against Iran, its Ministry of Security and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Ironically, yet another Iranian-Canadian has ended up in Evin prison, a retired Montreal professor who had been studying the position and rights of Muslim women in various countries of the Middle East. There has been no formal charge against former Concordia University professor Homa Hoodfar as yet and the Iranian authorities have not permitted Canadian consular officials to gain support access to her in prison, since Iran does not recognize her Canadian status.
Iranian women inmates sit at their cell in the infamous Evin jail, north of Tehran

Canada's previous experience with Montreal Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi, in that same infamous prison, where she was detained, tortured, raped and murdered in 2003 does not inspire confidence that the retired professor's life will not be in danger. But since the Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated his government's intention to restore diplomatic relations with Iran which the previous Conservative government had sundered, it will be interesting to see what sunny ways can accomplish.

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