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28 Sep 2018

Barry Yeoman, Nation (USA)

Commentary: Denying absolute immunity from lawsuits to Intl. Finance Corp. could help impoverished communities affected by its financial decisions seek justice

"Is the World Bank Group Above the Law?", 22 Sep 2018

...[O]n October 31, Chief Justice John Roberts will announce Jam’s name as the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that could determine whether organizations like the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) can be held responsible for harming the very people they’re supposed to be lifting from poverty...In 2015, Jam and MASS became plaintiffs—along with two other fishworkers...and a farmer who says his crops have been harmed—in a lawsuit against the IFC...The IFC...didn’t dispute the facts; it simply asked the court to throw out the case, saying it enjoyed “absolute immunity” from lawsuits...That’s the question before the Supreme Court in October: whether an ambiguous World War II–era statute really intended to give organizations like the IFC and the World Bank a blanket protection from lawsuits...[T]here’s another set of plaintiffs—Honduran farmers...awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision in Jam v. IFC...Even if they prevail at the Supreme Court, however, that decision will only address their right to sue.  The lawsuit will then have to be litigated on its merits.  But a favorable ruling for Jam on the immunity question could make the IFC more vigilant about protecting impoverished communities affected by its financial decisions.  And it could give those communities another recourse...