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Kiobel brief shows State/DOJ split over human rights litigation [USA]

When John Bellinger…was the legal adviser to the State Department in the administration of George W. Bush, the Justice Department filed about a dozen amicus briefs addressing the Alien Tort Statute…Bellinger told me…that he signed every one. When foreign nationals use the ATS to bring cases in U.S. courts for conduct that took place overseas, foreign policy is implicated, and the State Department wants a voice. That’s why Bellinger believes it’s so significant that when the Justice Department filed its new amicus brief in the reformulated Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum case at the U.S. Supreme Court, State Department legal adviser Harold Koh did not sign it…The DOJ brief…argues, tepidly, against the application of the Alien Tort Statute against Shell by Nigerian nationals who claim the oil company was complicit in state-sponsored torture and murder in their country.

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