The International Court of Justice (ICJ) considered today that does not have jurisdiction to require the United States to unfreeze Iranian assets held in a US bank and confiscated to hand them over to victims of attacks attributed to Tehran, but ordered Washington to compensate Iran for other measures against Iranian companies.
In a lengthy ruling handed down on Thursday, the UN’s highest judicial body rebuked Washington for having allowed the freezing of assets of Iranian companies in US banksbut considered not having jurisdiction to ask him to unfreeze thehe more than 1,750 million dollars in bonds and interests owned by the Iranian central bank Markazi, deposited in Citibank, and the most important part of the Iranian claim before the ICJ.
The ICJ did rule on measures taken by the US authorities against funds from Iranian companies, and rejected Washington’s request to dismiss “the entirety” of the case “on the principle of ‘dirty hands'”, that prevents a country from bringing a case before this court if the same State is involved in crimes related to the case.
This was the first time that a country had asked this court to rely on the principle of “dirty hands” to dismiss a case.
Washington stressed that Iran’s “own egregious behavior” with its “sponsorship of terrorist acts” against US citizens, supposes a violation of the Treaty of Friendship signed in 1955 by both partiesan agreement that former President Donald Trump terminated in October 2018.
And Tehran, which denied having links to international terrorism, demanded the unfreezing of the funds because their confiscation “violates” that Treaty and defended that this measure is part of a “litigation industry” against the country with “the objective of destabilizing Iran”, and it is a violation of international standards.
In response to both countries, the ICJ concluded today that it does not have jurisdiction to rule on the violation or not of that Treaty of Friendship in regards to Markazi’s assets because it is not a company, but it did consider the measures affecting Iranian commercial entities a violation of the agreement.
Therefore, it considered that Iran is entitled to a compensation for “the injuries”and if both countries do not reach an agreement on the amount in 24 months, they can return to the court to deliberate on this issue, although it did not see “sufficient reason” to require the United States to pay the costs of this procedure before the ICJ, as requested by Tehran.
This legal battle in The Hague has its origin in 2002, when the then president George W. Bush signed a federal law that allowed victims of terrorist attacks to claim millions in compensation when the attacks were “sponsored”according to Washington, by third countries.
Although it was not until February 2019 that the ICJ declared itself competent to rule on this dispute, Tehran denounced the United States as early as 2016, when The US Supreme Court concluded that an attack in Beirut in 1983, which killed 299 people, including 241 marines, was sponsored by Tehran.
the american court also declared legal the freezing of Iranian assets valued at about 2,000 million dollars deposited in United States bankssuch as Citibank of New York, although Iran at all times denied its involvement in that attack and considered that the freezing of Iranian assets was illegal.
Although ICJ rulings are legally binding on countries, This court does not have the tools to force compliance with its sentences, which means that the respect of their sentences is generally in the hands of the will of the countries.
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