Human Rights Litigation

Victims of human rights violations sometimes bring claims in U.S. courts, including claims based on violations outside the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized a limited cause of action for human rights claims under the Alien Tort Statute. Congress has also enacted statutory causes of action such as the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) and the Trafficking Victim Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). Human rights claims against individuals often raise questions of foreign official immunity.

A Primer on Human Rights Litigation

Modern human rights law developed in response to the events of the World War II, although it has earlier precursors. In 1948, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a non-binding declaration. More than seventy human rights treaties followed, including the Genocide Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,…

Continue Reading

Recent Posts

Throwback Thursday: Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.

Ten years ago this week, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., applying the presumption against extraterritoriality to the implied cause of action for human rights violations under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). In Kiobel, the Court began to whittle down the cause of action it had…

Continue Reading

Boston Jury Awards $15.5 Million in a Transnational Human Rights Case

Last month we reported on a sensible decision by Judge Allison D. Burroughs of the District of Massachusetts rejecting a defendant’s vague invocations of international comity as a basis for abstention. That decision cleared the way for trial on the plaintiffs’ claims that the defendant, Jean Morose Viliena, targeted them and their families for extrajudicial…

Continue Reading

Throwback Thursday: Professor William Casto on the Origins of the Alien Tort Statute

In the spring of 1986, Professor William Casto published an article in the Connecticut Law Review entitled The Federal Courts’ Protective Jurisdiction Over Torts Committed in Violation of the Law of Nations. Casto’s article was the first to explore the origins of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) in detail, and despite the many law reviewpages…

Continue Reading