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1 Okt 2012

Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

Supreme Court may narrow law in human rights cases

The Supreme Court seemed skeptical on Monday of allowing victims of human rights abuses to sue in American courts against the foreign corporations accused of aiding in the atrocities…[S]ome justices suggested they might not close U.S. courts to similar claims against individuals, including those who take refuge in the United States, or to claims involving U.S. companies. In the case,…12 Nigerians accused…Shell…of complicity in a violent crackdown on protesters by military ruler Sani Abacha from 1992 to 1995…[The case is] based on…the Alien Tort Statute…Justice Anthony Kennedy…asked Kiobel's lawyer…whether there was a connection between events in Nigeria and matters "that commenced in the United States or that are closely related to the United States." Kennedy expressed concern that if U.S. courts were to assert jurisdiction, this could expose U.S. corporations to similar lawsuits in other countries. Hoffman countered: "It is possible the plaintiffs could have sued in other places. They sued here because this is where they live."

Part of the following timelines

US Supreme Ct. hears oral arguments in Kiobel v. Shell Alien Tort Claims Act case - some justices seem to favour narrowing law in human rights cases

Shell lawsuit (re executions in Nigeria, Kiobel v Shell, filed in USA)