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28 Jun 2017

Marco Simons, EarthRights International

Here We Go Again: Corporate Liability for International Law Violations Returns to the Supreme Court

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In a case called Jesner v. Arab Bank, the Supreme Court will again consider whether corporations can be sued for serious violations of international law.

Jesner involves allegations that the defendant, Arab Bank, supported international terrorism by financing suicide bombings in Israel and making "martyrdom" payments to the families of deceased bombers. 

American victims of these attacks already won a jury trial against Arab Bank, in which the bank was found liable for violating the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act. But foreign victims need to proceed under the ATS instead, and their claims were dismissed. The trial court applied the original Kiobel I ruling that said that corporations cannot be sued under the ATS.

A three-judge panel of the Second Circuit affirmed this dismissal, but recognized that Kiobel I had been widely criticized...

Yesterday, ERI filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing that of course corporations can be sued...

We'll be watching this case closely as it develops; it's likely to be argued sometime this fall. We hope the Supreme Court will finally correct the Second Circuit's mistake in Kiobel I. There is simply no sense in a rule of corporate immunity for terrorism, genocide and torture - the most powerful economic actors in the world should not be given free reign to finance and profit from the worst abuses...

Part of the following timelines

US Supreme Court rules that foreign corporations cannot be sued for human rights abuses under the Alien Tort Statute

NGOs & trade union urge US Supreme Court to provide access to justice to foreign victims in Arab Bank lawsuit over alleged complicity in financing terrorism

Arab Bank lawsuit (re terrorist attacks in Israel)