Canada Should Continue Building Pressure Against Iranian Regime

(New York, N.Y.) — Canada announced the designation of multiple Iranian regime officials and entities on Friday for perpetuating “gross and systemic human rights violations” against the Iranian people and for threatening international peace and security. The designations targeted senior officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Islamic Republic’s Law Enforcement Forces Special Units, and the Judiciary, as well as businesses controlled by the IRGC or used by Tehran to support the development and provision of weaponized drones to partners, including Russia.

While these steps are both necessary and encouraging, Ottawa retains options to sharply increase its pressure on the Iranian regime for its malign behavior. The Canadian government should harmonize its human rights sanctions designations against current and former Iranian regime officials and entities with the U.S., U.K., and the EU. In addition, Canada should designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization and prohibit Canadian businesses and entities from engaging with the Iranian regime. 

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI)’s Iran Human Rights Sanctions Tracker (IHRST) indicates that there are 174 human rights designations that have been made against Iranian officials and entities by the U.S., 93 by the U.K., and 108 by the EU that have gone unmatched so far by Canada. Addressing these gaps is critical in holding the perpetrators of human rights abuses accountable.

Since the start of the most recent protests in September 2022, the IRGC has been chiefly responsible for the beatings, rape, torture, and murder of hundreds of Iranian civilians, including children. The IRGC is also responsible for an “act of terrorism” against 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents of Canada killed aboard Flight PS752. The IRGC, however, and its leadership, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have escaped direct accountability. Canada should add the IRGC to its list of terrorist organizations and designate Khamenei among others responsible for the IRGC’s atrocities.

Further, Canada should take action to prohibit Canadian businesses and entities from engaging in the Iranian market, which is dominated by the IRGC. UANI researchers concluded earlier this year that Canadian companies and universities are likely providing merchandise and strategic knowhow to the Iranian regime, and there is no evidence to suggest that cooperation with Tehran has ended.

To read UANI’s resource Iran Human Rights Sanctions Tracker (IHRST), please click here. 

To read UANI’s resource Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), please click here.