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1 May 2012

Michael Goldhaber, Corporate Counsel

Alien Tort Argument Reset [USA]

Could anything be worse for human rights claimants than a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that the Alien Tort Statute does not apply to corporations? Yes: a ruling by the Supreme Court that the Alien Tort Statute does not apply to human rights offenses committed in other nations. The first issue was argued before the Court in February in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell. In a surprise procedural order in March, the Court ordered the parties to brief the second issue, and reargue the case in the October term. A broad ruling against extraterritoriality is more dangerous to human rights plaintiffs than a broad ruling against corporate liability for two reasons. It could bar alien tort suits against corporate officers and directors, and it could bar more traditional alien tort suits against individuals who commit torture or other war crimes. [also refers to Rio Tinto, Talisman]

Part of the following timelines

Rio Tinto lawsuit (re Papua New Guinea)

Talisman lawsuit (re Sudan)