The Quest for Justice for Victims of Terrorism: International Law and the Immunity of States in Canada and the United States

By Coombes, Karinne | University of New Brunswick Law Journal, January 2018 | Go to article overview

The Quest for Justice for Victims of Terrorism: International Law and the Immunity of States in Canada and the United States


Coombes, Karinne, University of New Brunswick Law Journal


Introduction

On September 4, 1997, three suicide bombers killed five people and injured almost two hundred others at the Ben Yahuda Street pedestrian mall in Jerusalem. Among the injured were a Canadian, Sherri Wise, and three Americans, Diana Campuzano, Avi Elishis, and Greg Salzman. The attack occurred on the last day of a volunteer internship that Dr. Wise, a dentist, was completing at a dental clinic serving underprivileged children. (1) Hamas, which has since been recognized as a terrorist organization by Canada (2) and the United States, (3) claimed responsibility for the attacks. Six years later, on September 10, 2003, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia awarded Campuzano, Elishis, and Salzman tens of millions of dollars in damages against Iran due to its material support for Hamas. (4) Despite being successful in their claim against Iran, the plaintiffs in Campuzano faced the prospect of not receiving compensation because Iran had insufficient assets in the United States against which the judgment could be enforced. Fourteen years after the Campuzano plaintiffs "won" by securing a judgment against Iran, they moved a step closer to obtaining damages from Iran when the Court of Appeal for Ontario unanimously upheld in Tracy (Litigation Guardian of) v Iranian Ministry of Information and Security (5) the finding of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (6) that the U.S. Campuzano judgment (plus nine others (7) in favour of over 100 U.S. plaintiffs) could be enforced against Iranian assets in Canada. In March 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed Iran's application for leave to appeal, rendering the Court of Appeal's decision final. (8)

Tracy (Appeal) is noteworthy because it was the first case decided under Canada's Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. (9) With the JVTA, Canada joined the United States as the only states in the world that have implemented legislation permitting domestic civil claims by victims of terrorism abroad against foreign states that have been designated as sponsors of terrorism. While denying states immunity from such claims has a firm moral foundation, it raises a number of issues that will be explored in this paper. Among these issues is whether Tracy (Appeal) has resulted in Canada violating Iran's right to jurisdictional immunity under international law. As the 2012 decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Jurisdictional Immunities of the State (Greece Intervening) suggests, there is a strong argument that denying jurisdictional immunity to states in these circumstances violates current customary international law. (10) For the law to evolve to permit such claims, states will need to recognize more consistently that they do not enjoy jurisdictional immunity in these circumstances. Whether international law will evolve is questionable, as there may be compelling reasons for states to resist this evolution, including their concern that it may erode state sovereignty and risk negative consequences for international relations. The experience of victims in the United States (and, potentially, Canada) may also lead states to conclude that civil claims are not an effective means of achieving justice for victims of terrorism.

The paper begins with an overview of international law and the principle of state immunity, which is included to provide a necessary introduction for readers who are unfamiliar with these topics. Part two assesses the practice of Canada and the United States by examining the legislated exceptions to state immunity that allows claims against foreign states that sponsor terrorism, as well as the decision in Tracy (Appeal). Part three returns to international law and explores the decision of the ICJ in Jurisdictional Immunities. (11) This examination calls into question whether, through Tracy (Appeal), Canada has violated Iran's right to immunity under current customary international law. Part four considers the potential for Canada to be a "custom breaker" leading the way towards the recognition of a new exception to state immunity under international law. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Quest for Justice for Victims of Terrorism: International Law and the Immunity of States in Canada and the United States
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.