Accountability Litigation

For more than 30 years, survivors of egregious human rights violations have used the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) to seek justice in U.S. courts when redress might otherwise be unavailable in their home countries. Since 1980, an important body of jurisprudence has developed under the ATS to hold perpetrators accountable for abuses such as extrajudicial killing, torture, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

The Clinic has played a major role in ATS litigation since 2004, serving as co-counsel in several major cases, regularly filing amicus curiae briefs, and providing extensive legal research and drafting, fact-finding support, and strategic guidance for numerous cases. Clinic staff have been involved in landmark cases, including Doe v. Unocal and Wiwa v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. Both cases successfully settled, bringing important relief to clients and communities.

The Clinic served as co-counsel in In re South African Apartheid Litigation, a suit against Ford and IBM for aiding and abetting human rights violations committed by the apartheid state. The Clinic is also currently co-counsel in Mamani v. Sanchez de Lozada and Sanchez Berzain, a case against the former Bolivian president and defense minister for their roles in a 2003 civilian massacre.

The Clinic regularly submits amicus curiae briefs on important appellate matters. For example, during the 2013-2014 academic year, the Clinic submitted amicus curiae briefs in four ATS cases, including Al Shimari v. CACI, a suit brought by Iraqi torture survivors asserting that CACI, a private contractor, participated in war crimes and torture while providing interrogation services at Abu Ghraib prison. During the 2012-2013 and 2011-2012 terms, the Clinic filed two amicus curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of legal historians in support of petitioners on a major corporate ATS case, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. During the 2009-2010 term, the Clinic also served as counsel on two Supreme Court amicus curiae briefs. One was filed in Samantar v. Yousuf on behalf of major human rights NGOs. The other was filed in support of a petition for certiorari on behalf of leading international law scholars in Presbyterian Church of Sudan v. Talisman.

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