Attempts to negotiate with Iran towards compensation for the families of those who died in a horrific plane crash two years ago are “futile,” says the international group of countries pushing for answers.
The focus now, they say, must shift to recourse under international law.
“It is clear that Iran continues to avoid its international legal responsibilities, including by refusing to negotiate further with the Coordination Group and make full reparations for its actions,” said a statement issued by Global Affairs Canada from the International Coordination and Response Group.
“Despite our best efforts over the past two years and multiple attempts to resolve this matter through negotiations, the Coordination Group has determined that further attempts to negotiate with Iran on reparations for the destruction of Flight PS752 at this time are futile.”
The group’s focus will now turn to “subsequent actions” to resolve the matter through international law.
Iran shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on Jan. 8, 2020, just moments after the civilian aircraft took off from the Tehran airport. All of the 176 people on board died in the resulting crash.
Of those killed, 55 were Canadian citizens and roughly 30 held permanent resident status in Canada.
The downing of the plane has been widely recognized as a national tragedy for Canada, and last year an Ontario court ruled that Iran’s actions marked an intentional act of terrorism.
That ruling opened the door for Canadian families of the victims to seek damages for the suffering and loss caused by Iran’s downing of the plane, and earlier this week the court announced it had granted a $107-million settlement to several of the families.
Jonah Arnold, one of the lawyers representing the six families involved in the lawsuit, called the ruling by the court “precedent-setting” and the “first of its kind in Canada.”
But the settlement only applies to six families who brought forward the specific lawsuit and is not a broader compensation for all of the families who lost loved ones in the crash.
The International Coordination and Response Group was set up by four governments that lost citizens in the crash as an avenue to attempt to pursue consequences for Iran and to push for thorough access to information needed to conduct fulsome investigations.
It is made up of officials from Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
Yet Iran has repeatedly interfered in investigations into the crash, including tampering with evidence, and late last month the group says Iran rejected continued calls to negotiate on compensation for victims.
“Unfortunately, on December 27, 2021, we received an unequivocal response from Iran that it does not see a need to negotiate with the Group,” the group’s statement reads.
“After initially agreeing to engage with the Group during our first round of negotiations held on July 30, 2020, Iran is now categorically rejecting any further negotiations with the Group related to our collective demand for reparations.”
Some of the victims’ families have urged government to turn towards the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed last year that Canada will pursue “all available options, including recourse to the International Court of Justice,” if Iran failed to negotiate.