Iran


The Weekly Round-up: Iran, Technology and the Labour Leadership Contest

7 January 2020 by

Photo: Wikimedia commons

In the news

The news has been nothing if not dramatic this week. US President Donald Trump arranged for the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by drone strike on Friday. At Soleimani’s state funeral in Tehran, the streets were filled with crowds chanting ‘death to America!’, and a weeping Ayatollah Khamenei promised that a ‘harsh retaliation’ would come to the USA. The media is full of geopolitical speculation: some say that this amounts to a ‘declaration of war’ by the USA on Iran, and will lead to World War III, while others worry about the possibility of nuclear escalation. The BBC has published this relatively deflationary overview of the risks, as the situation stands.

British-Iranian dual citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was imprisoned in 2016 for allegedly ‘plotting to topple the Iranian regime’ and ‘spreading propaganda against Iran’, remains in prison in the country. Her husband has called for an urgent meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In light of Mr Johnson’s previous mishandling of the situation as Foreign Secretary, and his refusal to condemn the killing, saying on Sunday “we will not lament his death”, Richard Ratcliffe may well consider that he is entitled to a meeting.

International concern continues, too, over the 19-year-old UK citizen held in Ayia Napa in Cyprus, who says that she was compelled to withdraw her allegations of gang rape against a group of Israeli nationals under duress from Cyprus police. She was convicted in 2019 for ‘wilfully indulging in public mischief’, and is now pursuing an appeal process which could take up to three years. Dominic Raab this week urged the Cypriot authorities to ‘do the right thing’ in deciding her case.


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Government may weigh rights against national security without courts’ interference

12 November 2014 by

Mujahedin-e-Khalq-OrganizatR (on the application of Lord Carlile of Berriew QC and others) (Appellants) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Respondent) [2014] UKSC 60 – read judgment

The exclusion of a dissident Iranian from the UK, on grounds that her presence would have a damaging impact on our interests in relation to Iran, has been upheld by the Supreme Court. (My post on the Court of Appeal’s ruling is here).

At the heart of the case lies the question of institutional competence of the executive to determine the balance between the relative significance of national security and freedom of speech. The exclusion order was imposed and maintained because the Home Office is is concerned with the actual consequences of Mrs Rajavi’s admission, not with the democratic credentials of those responsible for bringing them about. The decision-maker is not required by the Convention or anything else to ignore or downplay real risks to national security where they originate from people acting for motives which are contrary to the values of this country.

The following summary of the facts is partly based on the Court’s press release. References in square brackets are to the paragraphs in the judgment.
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Supreme Court – Measures against Iranian bank unlawful, and the secret hearing ruling

19 June 2013 by

mellatBank Mellat v HM Treasury [2013] UKSC 38 (CMP: see judgment) and 39 (main: see judgment)

Two sets of judgments today from a 9-judge Supreme Court in the Bank Mellat case. The first explains why the Court adopted a secret procedure in the absence of the Bank (i.e. a Closed Material Procedure) but added that the whole palaver in fact added nothing to their knowledge. The second concludes that financial restrictions imposed in 2009 on an Iranian Bank which effectively excluded it from the UK financial market were arbitrary and irrational and were also procedurally unfair. 

The saga started when on 9 October 2009 the Treasury made a direction under Schedule 7 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 requiring all persons operating in the financial sector not to have any commercial dealings with Bank Mellat. The Treasury said that the Bank had connections with Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme.
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Exclusion of Iranian dissident lawful, says Court of Appeal

22 March 2013 by

Maryam-Rajavi2009R (on the application of) Lord Carlile of Berriew and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department 20 March 2013  [2013] EWCA Civ 199 – read judgment

 Last year the Divisional Court upheld the Home Secretary’s decision to prevent a dissident Iranian politician coming to the United Kingdom to address the Palace of Westminster: see that decision here and my post discussing the “Politics of Fear” here.

In this appeal, the parliamentarians contended that the Divisional Court had failed to consider the proportionality of the exclusion decision with sufficient scrutiny, and, by giving precedence to the possibility of unlawful actions by the Iranian regime, had given inadequate weight to the rule of law. It was perverse, they said, to justify the exclusion decisions by reference to risks to local staff and British government property in Tehran. Furthermore they argued that there had been unfairness in failing to consult the Parliamentary appellants.
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Protesting here and risk of persecution there

16 February 2011 by

BA (Demonstrators in Britain – risk on return) Iran CG [2011] UKUT 36 (IAC) – read judgment – and SA (Iranian Arabs-no general risk) Iran CG [2011] UKUT 41(IAC) – read judgment.

The Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) last week allowed two asylum appeals by Iranian political activists, and laid down guidance on the factors the Home Office and immigration tribunals should take into account when deciding asylum applications and appeals based on political activities here in the UK.

In the midst of all the excitement over the events in Tunisia and Egypt, it is important to remember that most countries in the wider Middle East are still under the control of authoritarian regimes which give scant regard to basic human rights. In particular, the success of the recent protests in removing Presidents Ben Ali and Mubarak from office are a reminder of the very similar, but unsuccessful, protests in Iran following the re-election of President Ahmadinejad in June 2009. The Iranian regime brutally suppressed the protesters in 2009, and there has been a crack-down on opposition activists since. The same reaction by the regime has been evident at renewed protests yesterday and today. The Upper Tribunal had to consider the ongoing situation in Iran in two recent decisions.


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Sexual orientation, religion and the courts’ increasingly difficult role

14 July 2010 by

The courts’ relationship with religious principles is rarely out of the spotlight, and recent decisions have provided more fuel for this debate.

Aidan O’Neill QC, writing on the UK Supreme Court Blog, provides an interesting discussion of last week’s Supreme Court decision in HJ (Iran) in the context of a series of controversial United States decisions on sexuality and religion.

We posted last week on the case of HJ (Iran), in which the Supreme Court ruled that policy of sending back gay refugees to their home countries where they feared persecution is unlawful as it breached their human rights. Rosalind English examined the case in the context of a European Court of Human Rights rejecting a complaint by a same-sex couple that Austria was in violation of the Convention for not granting them the right to marry.

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Iranian Bank anti-terrorism restrictions order upheld

15 June 2010 by

Bank Mellat v HM Treasury [2010] EWHC 1332(QB) Miity J 25/5/2010 – read judgment

A challenge to the imposition of a Financial Restrictions Order on an Iranian Bank alleged to have supported Iran’s nuclear program has been dismissed as the order was not considered disproportionate in the light of the importance of the public interested protected.

The order, which directed that anyone in the UK financial sector must not enter into or continue to participate in business with Bank Mellat, was maintained despite the Court of Appeal’s refusal to allow the government to rely upon secret evidence in order to prove the bank’s links with the nuclear program (see Court of Appeal launches offensive against secret justice with three linked judgments).

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