Lawmakers Urge Canada to Impose Magnitsky Sanctions Against Iran
(Bloomberg) -- Canadian lawmakers and a former justice minister are urging Justin Trudeau’s government to impose new sanctions against key Iranian officials, citing what they say is a sharp increase in human rights abuses this year.
Irwin Cotler, a former minister who now leads the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, released a report Monday calling for sanctions against Iranian ministers, judges, prosecutors and prison chiefs. Lawmakers from Trudeau’s Liberal party and its two chief rivals joined Cotler in calling for so-called Magnitsky law sanctions.
Canada passed a law last year named for late Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, whose arrest and death in prison drew international attention. It allows sanctions to be applied broadly in human rights cases, and was used last month to charge 17 Saudi officials in the aftermath of the death of Jamal Khashoggi.
“2018 has seen an unprecedented assault on human rights in Iran,” Cotler said Monday in Ottawa. He was joined by lawmakers from Canada’s three major parties, including Michael Levitt, a member of Trudeau’s Liberal Party who heads the House of Commons foreign affairs committee. “The Iranian regime must continue to be held to account to end the impunity of its human rights violations,” Levitt said.
The report called for sanctions against 19 people, including Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi, Justice Minister Seyyed Alireza Avaei and Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli. The lawmakers also called for the release of several figures who are either imprisoned in Iran, or barred from leaving the country. They include Maryam Mombeini, the widow of a professor and environmentalist who died in an Iranian prison, and Saeed Malekpour, a Canadian permanent resident who has been imprisoned for over a decade.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said last month her priority with Iran is to secure the release of Mombeini. Trudeau once expressed optimism Canada might be able to “re-engage” with Iran and restore ties, but that has faded. Trudeau and Freeland were among a majority of lawmakers who backed a non-binding motion in parliament earlier this year to “cease any and all negotiations or discussions” to restore ties with Iran.
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