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1 Oct 2012

Emily Bazelon, Slate [USA]

Torture Inc. - The Supreme Court term begins with a knotty human rights claim against big oil

There’s a deep question at the heart of the Supreme Court’s first case of the term today: When can the United States offer a court of last resort to people to whom we’ve granted asylum, who say they’ve suffered human rights abuses abroad?...Last year, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Company was about whether Esther Kiobel could sue a corporation—…Shell…—for allegedly colluding with the Nigerian military in the 1990s to crush protesters who were trying to stop oil exploration in the country. The Supreme Court was poised to decide whether companies, as opposed to individuals, may be held responsible under the Alien Tort Statute…The justices asked to rehear the case today, however, so they could consider a more basic question: Can someone like Esther Kiobel sue anyone at all under the Alien Tort Statue?