Hot! ‘Alien Tort’ Law Gets Questioned by Justices

WSJ | Several Supreme Court justices suggested they were ready to limit the reach of the U.S. courts over international-law abuses abroad.

The justices argued whether the Alien Tort Claims Act, a law authorizing noncitizens to sue in U.S. courts over violations of international law, applies to wrongs committed overseas.

The statute was passed in 1789 and has remained dormant for most of its history until human-rights advocates rediscovered it the 1970s and began applying it to violations of modern international law.

Initially, the Supreme Court agreed to consider whether the alien tort law applied to corporations as well as individuals, but after a first round of arguments in February, the justices ordered additional arguments over the far broader question of whether the law applies at all to events overseas.

Similar to this is the famous case concerning a French energy giant Total  and allegation that Burmese villagers were being used as forced labour to help support a huge gas pipeline that earned the country’s military regime hundreds of millions of dollars.

Total insisted that forced labour was not used around the pipeline and on the website stated that “The local inhabitants around the Yadana pipeline say that they are happy to have us there. They are, above all, grateful that there is no forced labour in the area around our pipeline.”

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US Lawyers Bangkok
Chaninat & Leeds is a US-Thailand law firm located in Bangkok, Thailand and is staffed by licensed Thai attorneys and licensed US lawyers.

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