Iran asks UN’s highest court to suspend US sanctions

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Members of the International Court of Justice attend a hearing for alleged violations of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Iran vs US, in the court room of the International Court in The Hague, Netherlands August 27, 2018. (Reuters)
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Jennifer G Newstead (C), lawyer of lawyer for the United States and representative of Iran Mohsen Mohebi (L) are pictured during the opening of case between Iran and the United States at the The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, August 27, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 27 August 2018
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Iran asks UN’s highest court to suspend US sanctions

  • Iran warns re-imposed US sanctions would cripple its economy and plunge the volatile region deeper into crisis
  • Pompeo calls Iran’s claims ‘meritless’ and defended the sanctions as a way of keeping Americans safe

THE HAGUE: Iran demanded Monday that the UN’s top court order the United States to suspend nuclear-linked sanctions against Tehran, but Washington vowed to “vigorously” fend off the legal challenge.
The Islamic Republic launched a suit at the International Court of Justice over US President Donald Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions that were lifted in a landmark 2015 accord.
Trump says the sanctions are needed to ensure Iran never builds a nuclear bomb. But Iran’s representative Mohsen Mohebi branded them “naked economic aggression.”
His team of lawyers told the court in The Hague that the measures were already devastating Iran’s economy and threatening the welfare of its citizens.
“The United States is publicly propagating a policy intended to damage as severely as possible Iran’s economy and Iranian nationals and companies,” Mohebi said.
“Iran will put up the strongest resistance to the US economic strangulation, by all peaceful means.”
US lawyers are due to give their response in arguments before the court on Tuesday, with experts expecting them to challenge the ICJ’s jurisdiction.
“We will vigorously defend against Iran’s meritless claims this week in The Hague,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
He said Iran’s lawsuit was “an attempt to interfere with the sovereign rights of the United States to take lawful actions, including re-imposition of sanctions, which are necessary to protect our national security.”
ICJ judgments are binding, final and without appeal.
However, whether any decision will be implemented remains unclear, with both Iran and the US in the past ignoring ICJ rulings against them.
The US measures have added to Iran’s economic woes, fueling strikes and protests across the country and political spectrum.
The sanctions target financial transactions and imports of raw materials, cars and aircraft among other sectors.
A second wave of punitive measures is due to hit the OPEC member state in early November, targeting its vital energy sector including oil exports.
Iran’s lawyers said the sanctions would cause it “irreparable prejudice.” They urged the court to order the suspension of the sanctions pending a definitive ruling.
London-based lawyer Samuel Wordsworth, for Iran, told the court the measures were threatening Iranians’ access to medicines as well as disrupting business deals.
The ICJ is expected to take a couple of months to decide whether to grant Tehran’s request for a provisional ruling. A final decision could take years.
After years of diplomacy, the 2015 deal was signed by Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.
Sanctions were lifted in return for Iran committing not to pursue nuclear weapons.
Trump, who took office in 2016, called it a “horrible one-sided deal.”
He said it “failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to a Iranian nuclear bomb.”
Iran’s lawyers said the US sanctions had disrupted tens of billions of dollars’ worth of business deals with foreign companies.
Iran’s currency the rial has lost around half its value since April.
International companies including French oil firm Total and Germany’s Siemens have suspended operations in Iran since Trump announced the US withdrawal in May.
Trump said the sanctions would turn up the financial pressure on Tehran to come to a “comprehensive and lasting solution” regarding its activities such as its “ballistic missile program and its support for terrorism.”
The case is the second brought by Tehran against Washington since 2016. That year it brought a suit at the ICJ against the freezing of around $2 billion of Iranian assets abroad which US courts say should go to American victims of terror attacks.
Hearings in that case are due to start on October 8.
In both cases Iran is basing its claim on the obscure 1955 Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations, signed long before the country’s Islamic revolution.
Despite the treaty, the two countries have not had diplomatic ties since 1980. Iran routinely refers to the US as “the enemy” and its officials chant “Death to America” at official functions.


Qatari tribe continues campaign for justice at UN in Geneva

Updated 47 min 19 sec ago
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Qatari tribe continues campaign for justice at UN in Geneva

  • Al-Ghufran traibe present their case in front of the international community to hold Qatar accountable
  • The tribe revealed the crimes against humanity committed by Qatari authorities

GENEVA: Members of a tribe persecuted for more than 20 years by authorities in Qatar appealed for help on Friday from the special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
It was the latest stage in a campaign for justice by the Al-Ghufran tribe, whose members have been stripped of their nationality and suffered torture, forced displacement and deportation.
A delegation from the tribe has taken their case to the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. They said they sought international assistance only after years of being ignored by the government of Qatar, and when they realized that the Qatari Human Rights Council was in league with the regime in Doha to deny them their rights as Qatari citizens.
A member of the tribe, Gaber Saleh Al-Ghufrani, also appealed to the people of Qatar for help. “We call on the elders of the honorable Al-Thani family and to the generous and righteous people of Qatar and to the Al Murrah tribe, known for their nobility and chivalry,” he said.
“We call on you as your brothers, young and old, elders and children, men and women, inside and outside Qatar, and we appeal to your proud Arab origin because the Qatari government has let us down, made untrue claims about us and stripped us of our rights.
“We have been subjected to much injustice and humiliation in our homeland from those who, unfortunately, we thought to be virtuous. We have been discriminated against in the most painful of ways; they have stripped us of our dignity.
“We chose to go to the United Nations and to the international human rights organizations only after the government of our own country closed all ways of appeal, and did not engage or listen to our demands.”
The tribe’s ordeal began in 1996, when some of their members voiced support for Sheikh Khalifa Al-Thani, the Qatari emir deposed the previous year by his son Hamad, father of the current emir, Sheikh Tamim.
About 800 Al-Ghufran families, more than 6,000 people, were stripped of their citizenship and had their property confiscated. Many remain stateless, both in Qatar and in neighboring Gulf countries.
“They have taken away our social, political and economic rights,” said
Jabir bin Saleh Al-Ghufrani, a tribal elder, at a press conference on Thursday. “The Al-Ghufran tribe has been subjected to unjust treatment.
“I left on a vacation in 1996, and now I can never go back to my country. I can go to any place on this earth, but not my home, not Qatar.”
Members of the delegation produced passports, certificates and other documents to show that their right to Qatari citizenship was being denied.
“I ask for my rights. Our people have been asking for our rights for a very long time now and no one has even explained to us why this is happening to us,” said Hamad Khaled Al-Araq.
Another member of the tribe, Hamad Khaled Al-Marri, said on Friday:
“Our issue with the Qatar regime is purely humanitarian and not political, this is why we came here to present our case and our demands to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Our demands are clear: The Qatar regime should be held accountable for the crimes that it has committed against us and other Qataris, and the restoration of our rights.”