Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom say they plan to move to the United Nations’s top court in their bid to hold the Islamic Republic of Iran accountable for the 2020 downing of a Ukrainian airliner by Iranian forces.
In a joint statement, the four countries said on June 29 that the decision to go to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague came after “no agreement on the organization of arbitration was reached” with Tehran.
Most of the 176 people killed when Iranian forces shot down the Ukrainian International Airlines flight near Tehran in January 2020 were citizens or permanent residents from Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and the UK. These countries created a coordination group – the International Coordination and Response Group for the victims of Flight PS752 – to seek accountability.
Iranian officials say the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) accidentally shot down the Boeing 737 jet and blamed a “human error” in operating a surface-to-air defense system.
“Time is up. We will proceed with taking Iran to the International Court of Justice over the downing of flight PS752, as we promised to the families of the victims,” Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly tweeted.
“Together, we will seek the transparency, accountability and justice families deserve. Impunity is not an option.”
Time is up. We will proceed with taking Iran to the International Court of Justice over the downing of flight PS752, as we promised to the families of the victims.— Mélanie Joly (@melaniejoly) June 29, 2023
Together, we will seek the transparency, accountability and justice families deserve. Impunity is not an option
The Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims said that referring the case to the ICJ “signifies an important milestone, yet there is still a long way ahead.”
“We will continue our fight until truth is revealed and justice is served,” it added.
The association also announced that a “forum for justice” is scheduled to take place in Toronto on July 5 with the presence of families, lawyers and officials. It said a rally will be held in the city’s Mel Lastman Square after the forum.
With the expiration of the six-month period for the Islamic Republic of Iran to submit to binding arbitration for the downing of Flight PS752, it is anticipated that the case will be referred to the International Court of Justice in The Hague after June 28, 2023, with the efforts… pic.twitter.com/bErYVFeEGX— Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims (@ps752justice) June 28, 2023
The jet bound for Kyiv went down shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport on January 8, 2020, at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the United States.
Iran’s military had just fired missiles on American forces in Iraq after Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike on Baghdad airport.
The June 29 announcement came a day after the ICJ announced that Tehran had filed a complaint accusing Canada of violating its “international obligations” by allowing people to seek civil damages against the Islamic Republic.
Last year, a Canadian court awarded $83.94 million in compensatory and punitive damages, plus interest, to families of victims who were killed when Iranian forces shot down PS752.
The Iranian government has said it would give $150,000 to each of the victims’ families.