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Canada, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine have jointly filed a complaint with the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) against Iran for the 2020 downing of a Ukraine International Airlines flight, resulting in 176 fatalities. The nations allege Iran breached international legal obligations by using weapons against a civil aircraft.

What happened:
On January 8, 2020, a Boeing 737-800 was shot down shortly after takeoff from Tehran. Iran later acknowledged that its Revolutionary Guard had mistakenly fired two missiles at the plane.

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What’s happening:
These countries have initiated “dispute settlement proceedings” with the ICAO, headquartered in Montreal. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, emphasizing the importance of justice for the victims’ families, remarked on the significance of this action during a memorial service marking the tragedy’s fourth anniversary. The group has also pursued legal action at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, demanding reparations from Iran for the victims’ families and criticizing Iran’s handling of the criminal investigation and prosecution as inconsistent with international law.

In response to the incident, an Iranian court has issued preliminary sentences to 10 individuals implicated in the tragedy, including the operator of the air defense system. Iran has set aside compensation of $150,000 for each victim’s family and commenced payments in 2022.

Iran’s stance:
Iran claims that they have cooperated and are being transparent. They also accuse the four governments of politicizing the matter and have filed their own case at the ICJ, alleging Canada’s violation of international obligations by permitting civil damages claims against Tehran.


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