The Clinic served as counsel of record on an amicus curiae brief filed in January 2010 with the U.S. Supreme Court in Samantar v. Yousuf. The Supreme Court took the case to resolve questions of immunity for government officials under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). We had previously filed an amicus curiae brief when the suit was on appeal to the Fourth Circuit. The case brings claims against former Somali General Mohamed Ali Samantar for torture, rape, and mass executions committed against the civilian population of Somalia during the 1980s.
On June 1, 2010, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that foreign government officials like Samantar who commit human rights abuses while in office are not entitled to immunity in U.S. courts under the FSIA.
Background on the case
The Clinic filed the brief on behalf of more than twenty amici, including Amnesty International, EarthRights International, Human Rights First, and Human Rights Watch, as well as individual torture survivors such as Dolly Filártiga, who brought the first successful ATS case against a torturer in 1980. The brief 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.
The Supreme Court’s decision was a major victory, which will help ensure that torture survivors can continue to seek justice against individual officials in U.S. courts.
Amicus Briefs submitted on behalf of: