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28 Feb 2012

James Vicini, Reuters

Supreme Court hears corporate human rights case

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A number of Supreme Court justices expressed skepticism on Tuesday that corporations can be sued in the United States for alleged complicity in human rights abuses abroad, a case with important financial, legal and international implications. The high court during arguments considered limiting the reach of [the Alien Tort Claims Act]…, used in the past 20 years by foreign victims to sue multinational corporations for abuses committed overseas. The court's conservatives voiced concern that allowing such lawsuits violated international law, that it created tensions with foreign nations and that the U.S. law only applied to acts by individuals, not to corporations…The case has been closely watched by corporations concerned about long and costly litigation in the United States and by human rights advocates who say businesses can be held accountable in U.S. courts for their alleged role in torture, executions or other abuses committed abroad.