Canada, UK, Sweden and Ukraine launch dispute against Iran over downing of passenger plane – JURIST

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Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Ukraine have collectively initiated dispute settlement proceedings Monday against the Islamic Republic of Iran before the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), alleging the use of weapons against passenger flight PS752. These countries already filedjoint application instituting proceedings against Iran before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), claiming that Iran has violated its obligations under the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation (otherwise known as the Montreal Convention).

The Ukraine International Airlines flight was shot down in January 2020, just minutes after takeoff from the IKA airport in Tehran, killing all the passengers and crew on board. While they initially denied responsibility, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps eventually acknowledged that the flight was downed by its missiles, but the full details remain unknown.

In April 2023, in a trial marked by a lack of transparency and called a “sham” by Human Rights Watch, 10 members of the Iranian armed forces were charged and sentenced for shooting down the plane. Iran provided no information about the investigation and presented no evidence to the authorities within the victim’s home countries. Human rights organisations further condemned Iran for engaging in arbitrary detention, interrogation, torture and other mistreatment directed at family members of the victims.

The Coordination and Response Group (CRG) was formed of the four nations, whose citizens made up the majority of passengers aboard the flight. They are seeking to hold Iran to account for using weapons against a civil aircraft in flight, in breach of its international legal obligations under Article 3bis of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The article ensures that states must “refrain from resorting to the use of weapons against civil aircraft in flight and that, in case of interception, the lives of persons on board and the safety of aircraft must not be endangered.”

In the joint statement, the CRG stated that Iran had been unwilling to engage in negotiations or take full legal responsibility for downing the flight. They were now instituting proceedings in the hope that the action at ICAO “alongside our continued pursuit of justice at the International Court of Justice can lead to real change and prevent similar tragic losses in the future. Justice shall prevail.”

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