Kazemi, et al. v. The Islamic Republic of Iran, et al. - Right to a meaningful remedy for human rights violations

Partner Organizations: David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights (University of Toronto) / Simcoe Chambers (Toronto)

Student: Megan Pearce

The IHRP and the Asper Centre intervened before the Supreme Court of Canada in Kazemi, et al. v. The Islamic Republic of Iran, et al. This case concerned whether Canadian courts have jurisdiction to provide a civil remedy for torture committed by a foreign state, where the victim is a Canadian citizen.

Zahra Kazemi was a dual Canadian and Iranian citizen. She was a freelance photographer and journalist, working around the world. She died in Iranian custody in July 2003, following her arrest for taking photographs of protestors in front of Evin prison in Tehran. While in detention, she was beaten, raped and tortured.

In 2006, Ms. Kazemi's son Stephan Hashemi instituted proceedings against the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, Saeed Mortazavi, the Chief Public Prosecutor of Tehran, and Mohammad Bakhshi, former Deputy Chief of Intelligence of Evin Prison. The lawsuit alleged that Ms. Kazemi was tortured and killed by Iranian authorities, and sought damages on behalf of Ms. Kazemi's estate and for Mr. Hashemi. The main question at the Supreme Court of Canada was whether the State Immunity Act bars these claims for damages.  

The IHRP and the Asper Centre argued that the right to a remedy is protected at international law, and a principle of fundamental justice as expressed by s. 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Read the IHRP and the Asper Centre's factum here.  View the webcast of the oral argument here.

Read IHRP press release on the Supreme Court's decision in the Kazemi.