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Canadian Former Attorney General and Lawmakers call for sanctions on 19 Iranian officials

The Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human rights in Canada issued a report on 10 December 2018 calling for sanctions on 19 Iranian top officials for their complicity in repression of Iranian civil society. The report highlights what it names ‘profiles of oppression; profiles of 19 Iranian regime officials that have targeted Iranian-Canadians.

The center is led by Irwin Cotler Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, who unveiled the project in August 2018 with the aim of advocating for a number of political prisoners worldwide.

The newly published report on Iran calls for imposing sanctions on these individuals under the Serge Magnitsky law according to Mr. Cotler:

“It is crucial that the international community not turn a blind eye to what I have termed the five-fold Iranian threat: the nuclear threat; state-sponsorship of terror; regional hegemonic aggression including mass criminality in Syria, state-sanctioned incitement to genocide; and massive domestic repression.”

The Magnitsky law

The Magnitsky law was passed in Canada in 2017 and is named as such after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian accountant who specialised in anti-corruption activities. In his work he alleged there had been large-scale theft from the Russian state that had been sanctioned and carried out by Russian officials. In 2008 Magnitsky testified against Russian officials, who misappropriated three companies from his client and embezzled $230 million of public funds. Shortly after his testimony he was arrested and imprisoned for 11 months without trial. During his detention he was subject to ill treatment before he fell sick. On 16 November 2009, after 358 days in jail, Magnitsky died of heart failure. The Magnitsky Act was first written into US law in 2010, and then into Canadian law in 2017. The law permits governments to sanction foreign government officials implicated in human rights abuses in other countries.

Most recently the law was used last month to charge 17 Saudi officials implicated in the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The 19 Iranian top officials named in the report

Canadian lawmakers endorse Cotler’s mission

Former Justice Minister and Chief of human rights NGO Irwin Cotler are urging Trudeau’s government to impose the sanctions outlined in their report. Members of Trudeau’s liberal party joined in Cotler’s calls for Magnitsky law sanctions.

Alongside Canadian lawmakers from the major political parties, Irwin Cotler said on 10 December,

“2018 has seen an unprecedented assault on human rights in Iran,”

Michael Levitt, a member of Trudeau’s Liberal Party who heads the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, said,

“The Iranian regime must continue to be held to account to end the impunity of its human rights violations,”

Dual-nationals jailed in Iran

Canada has generally campaigned hard for the release of Iranian Canadian dual-nationals. In June 2018 Trudeau’s government voted in a motion on Iran that stated,

‘The house: demand that the Iranian Regime immediately release all Canadians and Canadian permanent residents who are currently detained in Iran, including Maryam Mombeini, the widow of Professor Kavous Sayed-Emami, and Saeed Malekpour, who has been imprisoned since 2008, (iii) immediately designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a listed terrorist entity under the Criminal Code of Canada…’

The vote included Iranian dual nationals Saeed Malekpour and Maryam Mombeini whose husband Seyed Kavous Emami sadly passed away in questionable circumstances while in custody in Iran in February 2018. Seyed was one of a group of environmentalists unjustly arrested in Iran while working for the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. The group of nine environmentalists including Canadian permanent resident Niloufar Bayani were recently charged with baseless espionage charges.

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