Canada Lists Both Iran and Syria as State Supporters of Terrorism

September 7, 2012 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and the Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, today announced that Canada has listed both Iran and Syria as states that support terrorism.

“Canada is committed to fighting global terrorism and to holding perpetrators of terrorism—and those who provide them support—accountable for their actions,” said Minister Baird.

“Building resilience against terrorism is a priority for our government, and respect for the rule of law prevails in a resilient society,” said Minister Toews. “Canada recognizes victims of terrorism, and we are providing those victims with a means to seek justice.”

The Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act allows victims of terrorism to sue perpetrators of terrorism and those who support them, including listed foreign states, for loss or damage that has occurred as a result of an act of terrorism committed anywhere in the world.

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A backgrounder follows.

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Backgrounder - Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act

The Government of Canada is committed to fighting terrorism and to holding the perpetrators of terrorism and those who support them accountable for their actions. The Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act (the “Act”) allows victims of terrorism to sue perpetrators of terrorism and those who support them, including listed foreign states, for loss or damage that has occurred as a result of an act of terrorism committed anywhere in the world.

The Act complements Canada’s existing counterterrorism measures, including the deterrence of terrorism, and is aimed at responding to the unique concerns of victims of terrorism, while demonstrating Canada’s leadership against those who support terrorism around the world.

The Act allows:

  • victims of terrorism to sue the perpetrators of terrorism and those who support them—including foreign states listed by the Government of Canada—in a Canadian court. Victims can seek redress for terrorist acts that were committed anywhere in the world after January 1, 1985;
  • victims of terrorism to sue the perpetrators of terrorism and those who support them if the victims are Canadian citizens or permanent residents, or if they can demonstrate a real and substantial connection between their claim and Canada; and
  • the suspension of statutory limitation periods. In other words, victims are not penalized if they were incapable of commencing an action within the normal limitation periods because of physical, mental or psychological conditions, or if victims were unable to ascertain the identity of the perpetrators of the terrorist act or those who supported them.

The Act made amendments to the State Immunity Act in order to allow the Governor in Council to create a list of states that there are reasonable grounds to believe have supported terrorism after January 1, 1985. As such, the Governor in Council has the authority, upon the recommendation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and in consultation with the Minister of Public Safety, to list foreign states that have supported a terrorist entity named pursuant to the Criminal Code of Canada. By being placed on this list, states lose their immunity from the jurisdiction of Canadian courts in relation to civil suits brought against them in connection with their support of terrorism.

The Government of Canada is determined to take decisive steps to protect Canadians at home and abroad from the threat of terrorism. Canada is sending a clear message that perpetrators of terrorism and those who support them will be held accountable for their actions.

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