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ICJ rules Iran has legal claim to $2bn in assets frozen by US | USA News

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The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that Iran has the right to recover two billion dollars in frozen assets in the United States

In a ruling issued on Wednesday, the 15-member court in The Hague said Tehran can proceed with a bid to recover the assets, which Washington says must go to victims of attacks blamed on Iran.

Judges rejected US claims the case should be thrown out because Iran had “unclean hands” from alleged links to “terrorism”, and the international tribunal in The Hague did not have jurisdiction over the lawsuit. 

Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, chief judge at the ICJ, said the court “unanimously rejects the preliminary objections to admissibility raised by the United States of America”.

The court also “finds that it has jurisdiction” to rule on the case, which was filed by Iran in 2016, Yusuf said at the end of an hour-long reading of the judgment.

The court will hold further hearings on the case.

Wednesday’s ruling threatens to further escalate the dispute between the rivals and comes after a decision in October when the same court ordered the US to lift sanctions on humanitarian goods destined for Iran.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington are already high around the anniversary of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Republic’s revolution, as well as Wednesday’s Middle East summit in Poland, which observers say is aimed at isolating Iran.

In 2016, the US Supreme Court ruled Iran must give the cash to American survivors and relatives of victims of attacks, including the 1983 bombing of US Marine barracks in Beirut.

Iran said the US decision breached the 1955 Treaty of Amity with the US, an agreement signed before Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution severed relations between the former allies.

The ICJ is the top court of the United Nations and was set up after World War II to resolve disputes between member states. Its rulings are binding and cannot be appealed, but it has no means of enforcing them.

‘Bad faith’

Relations have been strained since US President Donald Trump‘s decision to pull out of an international nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions.

Iran first lodged the case on the frozen funds in June 2016, accusing Washington of breaking the decades-old bilateral treaty dating from the time of the US-backed shah, who was deposed in the revolution.

Tehran said the US had illegally seized Iranian financial assets and those of Iranian companies.

In October, Richard Visek, a US State Department legal official, told the ICJ that “Iran comes to the court with unclean hands – indeed, it is a remarkable show of bad faith”.

In 2018, Iran won a legal victory when the ICJ ruled the US must lift sanctions against Tehran targeting humanitarian goods such as food and medicine.

In response, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was terminating the 1955 friendship treaty.

Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton also announced the United States was pulling out of the 1961 Optional Protocol and Dispute Resolution of the Vienna Convention.

The protocol establishes the ICJ as the “compulsory jurisdiction” for disputes unless nations decide to settle them elsewhere.

The US withdrawal from the 1961 protocol also comes after the Palestinians went to the ICJ to challenge the US move of its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

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Ottawa announces new funding to combat online child abuse

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Ottawa has announced $22 million in funding to fight online child abuse.

Noting that police-reported incidents of child pornography in Canada increased by 288 per cent between 2010 and 2017, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Tuesday.

It follows a London meeting last week that focused on the exploitation of children between Goodale and his counterparts from the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, collectively known as the Five Eyes intelligence group.

Major internet companies, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, were also at the meeting and agreed to a set of rules the members of the group proposed to remove child pornography from the internet quicker.

On Tuesday, Goodale warned internet companies they had to be better, faster and more open when in comes to fighting child abuse on line.

In this Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 photo, detectives use the Cellebrite system to extract information from cellphones at the State Police facility in Hamilton Township, N.J. “Operation Safety Net,” the results of which were announced in December, netted 79 people suspected of exploiting children. (Thomas P. Costello/Asbury Park Press/Canadian Press)

“If human harm is done, if a child is terrorized for the rest of their life because of what happened to them on the internet, if there are other damages and costs, then maybe the platform that made that possible should bear the financial consequences,” Goodale said.

The government plan includes $2.1 million to intensify engagement with digital industry to develop new tools online and support effective operating principles, $4.9 million for research, public engagement, awareness and collaboration with non-governmental organizations and $15.25 million to internet child exploitation units in provincial and municipal police forces across the country.

Goodale said the strategy recognizes that technology is “increasingly facilitating the easy borderless access to vast volumes of abhorrent images.”

That, he said, makes investigations increasingly complex,

“This is a race where the course is always getting longer and more complicated and advancing into brand new areas that hadn’t been anticipated five years ago or a year ago or even a week ago,” Goodale said.

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Gas prices expected to dip in Ottawa

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If you can wait an extra day to fill up the gas tank, your bank account might thank you.

Roger McKnight of Enpro is predicting a five cent dip in gas prices Wednesday night at midnight.

This comes after a four cent drop this past Friday, just ahead of the August long weekend.

McKnight said the reason for the drop, both last week and this week, is due to comments made by US President Donald Trump. 

He says after the drop, the price will be, on average, 118.9 cents/litre in the Ottawa region.

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Oka asks Ottawa to freeze Mohawk land deal, send RCMP to Kanesatake

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The town of Oka is asking the federal and provincial governments to slap a moratorium on a proposed land grant to the local Mohawk community in Kanesatake and to establish an RCMP detachment on the First Nations territory to deal with illegal cannabis sales outlets.

The requests were contained in two resolutions adopted Tuesday night by the Oka town council.

The administration of Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon held its first public meeting since the start of the controversy that pitted the town council against the Kanesatake band council over a decision by a local promoter to give local lands to the Mohawk community.

The three resolutions are addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, Quebec Premier François Legault’s government and the Kanesatake band council led by Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon.

As each resolution was read into the record, Quevillon stressed that the town of Oka was only looking to live in peaceful cohabitation with the Mohawk community.

The town also called upon Ottawa to establish a consultation process that would take into account the concerns of residents in Oka and  Kanesatake.

Quevillon’s administration also wants access to the plans detailing what lands are at the centre of negotiations between the federal government and the Mohawk community for purchase, suggesting the talks are simply a disguised form of expropriation.

“They’re giving money to (the Mohawks) to buy our land and annex it to their territory,” Quevillon said.

Despite its demands, the Oka council adopted an official statement addressed to the Kanesatake band council saying the town’s population wanted dialogue and peaceful cohabitation, with Quevillon citing the 300 years of close links between the two communities.

During the council meeting’s question period, some residents suggested that the council deal with other groups that say they are speaking for Kanesatake, including Mohawk traditionalists. Mayor Quevillon replied that the town would only deal with the band council and did so out of respect for Grand Chief Simon.

The mayor also argued that the RCMP, a federal police force, was best suited to be deployed in Kanesatake, where it would ensure the law would be respected, particularly on the issue of illegal cannabis shops.

Quevillon contended such a deployment was the only way for both communities to work together toward their mutual economic development.

Meanwhile, the apology Grand Chief Simon has said he is expecting from Quevillon for remarks he made earlier this summer about the Mohawk community in Kanesatake does not appear to be coming any time soon.

Asked by a resident if he would apologize, Quevillon left the answer to those citizens who attended the meeting, the vast majority of whom replied, “no.”

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