May 5, 2022, Washington, D.C.–This week, Senators Richard Durbin (D-ll.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced an act to reform the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). The ATS is a law that allows non-U.S. citizens to file lawsuits in U.S. federal courts for certain violations of international law, including serious human rights violations. Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have significantly undermined the use of the ATS for this purpose.
EarthRights International General Counsel Marco Simons issued the following statement:
“We applaud Senators Durbin and Brown for taking steps to amend the Alien Tort Statute and ensure that it remains an important tool for victims of human rights abuses to seek justice in U.S. courts. The United States should not become a safe haven for human rights abusers who are trying to escape accountability. Historically, the ATS has been an important tool for allowing victims of some of the most horrific human rights abuses – including torture, crimes against humanity, and genocide – to sue those responsible in the United States, but recent Supreme Court decisions have made this more difficult.
“Fixing the ATS will empower victims of business-related human rights violations, such as former child laborers on cacao plantations, to hold their perpetrators accountable. Businesses and corporations should not be allowed to profit from human rights abuses. That’s why we must fix the ATS now.
“We call on Congress to clarify U.S. courts’ responsibilities to enforce international law, reassert U.S. leadership on human rights, and provide remedies to victims of the most serious human rights abuses by fixing the ATS.”
Kate Fried, EarthRights International