Amicus Brief in Samantar v. Yousuf
On January 10, 2010, EarthRights International, along with more than twenty other human rights organizations, religious groups and torture survivors and their families, filed an amici curiae brief in the United States Supreme Court. The brief supported the plaintiffs in Samantar v. Yousuf, who bring claims against former Somali General Mohamed Ali Samantar for torture, rape, and mass executions committed against the civilian population of Somalia during the 1980s. The case presented the question of whether former foreign government officials who committed human rights abuses while in office are entitled to immunity in U.S courts under the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA). Amici argued that the FSIA does not immunize individual former officials from suit in U.S. courts for violations of fundamental human rights such as torture and extrajudicial killing, in part because such abuses are by definition, beyond the scope of the official s legal authority. In addition to serving as an amicus, ERI wrote significant portions of the brief. The Supreme Court ruled for the plaintiffs, finding that the foreign officials are not immune under the FSIA, but leaving open the question of whether such officials should be shielded from liability by a court created common law immunity.