Media Advisory: Supreme Court of Canada to rule on right to a civil remedy for torture victims

Posted on

October 9, 2014
For immediate release
Ottawa – The Supreme Court of Canada will release its decision on Friday, October 10, 2014 in The Estate of Zahra Kazemi et al. v. Iran, et al. The case considers whether a Canadian court has jurisdiction over a civil suit for damages arising from the torture of a Canadian citizen by a foreign state.

Zahra Kazemi was a dual Canadian and Iranian citizen who lived in Montreal and worked around the world as a journalist and photographer. She was tortured and killed in Iranian custody in July 2003 after being arrested for taking photographs of protestors in front of Evin prison in Tehran.

In 2006, Ms. Kazemi’s son Stephan Hashemi instituted proceedings against the Islamic Republic of Iran and other Iranian officials, alleging that Ms. Kazemi was tortured and killed by Iranian authorities. The claim sought damages on behalf of Ms. Kazemi’s estate and for Mr. Hashemi.

The BCCLA is an intervener in this case before the Supreme Court of Canada. The BCCLA argues that cases involving torture must be exceptions to the laws granting immunity from civil suit to foreign states. The BCCLA says that any legal interpretation that prevents access to justice and imposes barriers to redress for the most serious human rights violations is contrary to Canada’s commitment in Article 14 of the Convention against Torture and to the values and principles underlying section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The BCCLA is represented by Ward K. Branch and Susan M. Precious of Branch MacMaster LLP.

The BCCLA’s argument in this case is available here >>

  • What: Supreme Court of Canada to deliver its judgment in The Estate of Zahra Kazemi et al. v. Iran, et al. 
  • When: Reasons for judgment will be delivered on Friday, October 10, 2014 at 6:45am PST / 9:45am EST
  • Where: Supreme Court of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario)
    Who: Representatives of the BCCLA available for comment