Canada recalled its ambassador to Iran over the judiciary’s refusal to allow Canadian observers attend the trial of an intelligence ministry agent in the death in custody of Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi. Graham said Canada will consider other options, such as economic sanctions. July 14, 2004 - “The federal government has recalled its ambassador to Iran and will consider tougher action after Tehran reneged on a pledge to allow Canadian observers at the trial of a man charged in the death of Montreal photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, Canada’s foreign affairs minister Bill Graham said on Wednesday, as he emerged from a meeting with slain journalist’s son Stephan Hachemi. He added that Canada was considering further action, such as taking Iran to the International Court of Justice, or economic sanctions.
“It's time to consider everything,” he said. “We have to look at what is effective,” Graham said.
“Under all human-rights codes, under all international law standards, this should be a public trial with the rights of the family to be present to see and ensure that justice is done. Justice will not be done behind closed doors in Iran,” Graham added.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister also summoned the Islamic government’s ambassador to Canada in order to make known “his outrage” at the judiciary’s breaking a promise which had been made earlier to Canadian negotiators.
Canada had planned to send three observers to the trial, scheduled for Saturday, but foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said Kazemi’s murder was a domestic issue. “The request for the presence of Canadian observers is contrary to all international principles and regulations and is unacceptable,” Asefi said.
Iran's Ambassador to Canada Mohammad Mousavi said four lawyers, led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, will be in the court representing the family, Canada’s Globe and Mail reports. Mr. Mousavi said the decision to keep Canadian observers out was the judge's responsibility. He acknowledged that the original judge in the case had agreed to the observers.
Canadian officials said the decision to allow observers had been communicated to them through diplomatic channels.
Human rights organizations, Kazemi’s family lawyers and Canadian government have charged that the defendant in Saturday’s trial is a scapegoat protecting higher government officials.
“This is completely unacceptable behavior on their part,” Mr. Graham said after meeting with Kazemi's son, Stephan Hachemi. “I'm calling in the ambassador to make that point and I will be recalling from Tehran our ambassador.”
It is the second time in a year Canada has recalled its ambassador over the case. Mr. Graham said he learned of the Islamic government’s decision from an early morning news broadcast, then confirmed it with Canadian Foreign Affairs officials. He called the Iranian decision “a rejection of the rule of law.”