Justices Weigh Immunity for Corporations in Human Rights Cases Abroad

from NYTs

The Supreme Court, which has already placed strict limits on lawsuits brought in federal court based on human rights abuses abroad, seemed open on Wednesday to barring such suits entirely when the defendants are corporations.

The case concerned Arab Bank, which is based in Jordan and operates in about 30 countries. It has been accused of processing financial transactions through a branch in New York for groups linked to terrorism. The plaintiffs in the case seek to hold the bank liable for attacks by Hamas and other groups in Israel and in the Palestinian territories.

Jeffrey L. Fisher, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said his clients had made grave accusations against the bank.

“What we allege is knowing and purposeful financing of terrorism with the expectation that it will make those terrorism attacks more successful and more lucrative for the perpetrators, and that is a violation of the law of nations,” he said.

Paul D. Clement, a lawyer for the bank, said American courts have no business sorting out the truth of accusations involving foreign parties and conduct.

More here.

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7 Responses to Justices Weigh Immunity for Corporations in Human Rights Cases Abroad

  1. Valerie Dorsett October 20, 2017 at 5:53 pm #

    The United States has always stood up for other countries who cannot defend themselves. We fight for the rights of others because we believe everyone should be treated equally. However, there is one headline that has people questioning this standard. The article, “Justices Weigh Immunity for Corporations in Human Rights Cases Abroad,” explains what is going on now in foreign countries. Is ignoring this situation morally right?
    Right now, there is an issue with a certain bank in Jordan. An Arab Bank that operates in many countries is being accused of processing finical transactions through to New York, which may have been linked with terrorism. Any act of being involved in an act of terrorism whether it is just financing or knowing about the operation is punishable by the law of the nations. It is important that we all come other and protect each other from harm, so the fact that someone may have contributed needs to be sorted out. However, Clement who is a lawyer for the bank said that American courts have no business sorting out the truth since they are a foreign party. I can understand that since the United States does not work the same way that other countries do that they should be left out of other countries legal matters. However, since an American Bank may have been affected in New York for connections to terrorism I would think that America could get involved in this type of situation.
    Israeli nations are filing a suit against a corporation in Jordan because of injuries suffered. Human rights in corporations are being questioned. Clement argues that we are strangers to this decision which makes sense. However some Chief Justices are weighing in on the situation. Justice Roberts and Samuel add that they think if they hear the case that it could cause tension between foreign relations. They fear that is Israel views our finances in a bad way of helping terrorists that Israel and may other countries would complain to the United States of America. I thought that we were the country of the brave but I guess on certain foreign matters, the United States has to mainly look out for itself and its allies. The article explains that even if something involves United States territory we still have to be careful with that is ours and how we are involved in order to say anything.
    Corporations still should not deserve a free pass on this wrongdoing. I believe that no matter where a crime is done there should be some justice. If corporations are messing with human rights we cannot allow this to just be ignored. The law of 1789 is coming into play questionably because corporations cannot be sued under that law. This law was mainly ignored until the 1980s when they applied it to similar human rights cases. In the most recent year of 2011, the Supreme Court revisited the situation with this law. In a case, they agreed to solve it but then just ignored the law and left it aside without any decisions. They are scared to face any suits that may not have to do with the United States. I agree that in some cases the United States should not be involved like the worlds police system and stay out of things. However, if there are times when people absolutely need our input and help we should reach out a helping hand. Especially, if they are our allies and are asking for it.

  2. Jimmy Bedoya October 20, 2017 at 8:31 pm #

    Along with recent dispute in the use of cookies for tracking personnel on the internet, businesses have established a bad image for themselves. With intentions of increasing their total revenue, businesses track the history of users to advertise products more effectively, potentially exploiting the information of many individuals to hackers. Recent hacks to Equifax have shown many that even the largest of companies can fail in protecting the sensitive information of millions. Now the issue stands alongside a bank for the funding of groups linked to terrorism in Israel and in the Palestinian territories. This makes one think just how safe is the services that are provided for us in our everyday lives. The Supreme Court now finds themselves in a dilemma because they are facing a situation in which the federal appellate courts are divided. The defendant, Arab Bank concurs that the banks or any corporation for that matter should be tried by a court system if it is not within the U.S jurisdiction. The plaintiffs, however, allege that the bank is guilty of knowing and executing the financing of terrorism in hopes that it helps succeed terrorist attacks and increases the suspect’s profit.

    As a U.S citizen but most importantly as an individual apart of a global community, I find it entirely evil for such corporations to be allowed to invest into parties who associates itself with terrorism. It seems as though corporations are being left off the hook when it comes to the sabotage of human rights on every levels. First, corporations are allowed to openly invade one’s privacy and store any data relevant to the individual at hand. Now these businesses are funding groups who live on the sole ideology that if public destruction is what it takes to send a message, so be it Society now faces both the endangerment of personal information and physical endangerment as well. Though the counterargument presented is that the funding from this bank falls out of American jurisdiction, these countries are as important as ours are. There are many things wrong with the fact that this Arab Bank is being allowed to fund these groups. For one it ruins any potential business of other corporations with harmless intentions. Second, it stands as a morally incorrect action for knowing about the funding of these banks and not putting a stop it, in the end, harming the peoples of the planet Earth. Lastly, this gives Israel a reason to have an issue with the United States and possibly fuel a potential World War Three. Someone might argue that these are simply speculations and nothing more, I disagree by exclaiming the fact that nuclear war can potentially arise between North Korea and the United States. Therefore, upsetting, even more, countries in the eastern hemisphere can directly aid the opposition of the United States with allies and thus more power. The Supreme Court must begin to take problems up with the United Nations in order to decide if these issues are a global threat. Only then will these corporations put a halt to any illegal business activity and begin to value the worth of a human being.

  3. Jimmy Bedoya October 20, 2017 at 8:34 pm #

    Edit: (The defendant, Arab Bank concurs that the banks or any corporation for that matter should not be tried by a court system if it is not within the U.S jurisdiction.)

  4. Carolyn Wyland October 21, 2017 at 11:20 am #

    In the case of Jesner vs. Arab bank I can understand why the United States court believes they should have jurisdiction of the case, due to the transaction to support terrorism occurring in New York City. With the act occurring in the United States it would appear that America has grounds to rule over the case, however the problem is between a corporation and another country. The other possibility of course is for an international court to hear the case due to the various countries involved. Where the trial is held is important because the trial needs to be fair and the court needs to have a thorough understanding of the laws that are possibly being violated. There are many terrorism issues in the world and this case is not the first nor will be the last where different courts believe they have standing.

    In my opinion I think the trial should not be held in the place the human rights violation took place, because it has the potential for a different standard of law to be held. Human right violations are normally governed under the Geneva Conventions so a trial would be held where the international courts deem fit. I agree with the defendant’s lawyer that international courts have more knowledge in the matters at hand. It is not necessarily that the United States is not competent enough to hear the case, but if they do that sets precedent for other countries in the same situation to hear cases. Another country may not be as qualified to hear a case or have less harsh consequences than the international courts.

    Terrorism seems to be all around us in the last sixteen years ranging from 9/11 to the Paris attacks. The war on terror is ongoing and feels like a parasite the world cannot get rid of. Although it is important to hold violators of human rights accountable I think it is more important to prevent these crimes to begin with. The laws against supporting terrorism have universally become more stringent but still the world suffers from these heinous acts. It now becomes a matter of prevention, which can be tied to the debatable Patriot Act being passed. Then the issue at hand is what laws are too intrusive in regard to violating privacy rights even in the name of preventing acts of terrorism. Whether hearing cases on violations of human rights or creating laws to prevent terrorism one point is clear, we must be united.

  5. Shiyun Ye October 27, 2017 at 5:42 pm #

    Terrorisms are overwhelmed these days. The most recent one happened in one train station in London, and the explosion caused at least 22 people injured. Nowadays, not only United States but also many other countries emphasize the importance of preventing terrorisms. However, according to the article above, the Arab bank has been accused of processing financial transactions through a branch in New York for groups linked to terrorism. It seems quite contrary to what the current trend is. However, the Supreme Court, which has already placed strict limits on lawsuits brought in federal court based on human rights abuses abroad, seems open on Wednesday to barring such suits entirely when the defendants are corporations.
    People’s opinions are divided. Some people argue that the court should impose a categorical prohibition on human rights suits against corporations since human rights is a big term in United States, especially when it is related to foreign relationships. As decided to 1789 international law, United States courts has no business sorting out the truth of accusations involving foreign parties and conduct. It is not only because the sensitive importance on human rights in United States, but also because it can cause friction in foreign relations. For example, in this Arab bank case, if Supreme Court makes up a conclusion on whether or not the bank is liable for the financing of terrorisms, the relationship between United States and Arab would probably go towards a bad direction. Moreover, the branches of Arab bank in United States would eventually decrease its activities within the country, which can cause inconvenience for citizens and big decline in economics.
    However, as some other people insist that corporations should have social responsibility to create organization’s good image and credibility. For example, in this Arab bank case, when people learned that the bank is actually supporting the terrorism activities, it highly affects the organization’s reputation and people will definitely assume that the company has no basic business ethics so that they probably will start to worry about how safe it can be for their money be put in the bank. Furthermore, as the current trend on social responsibility of corporations such as environmental friendly importance is eventually a critical element in modern business world, a big company like Arab bank should consider how it is presented in public’s eyes.
    In the end, Supreme Court still does not have a decision. It has a similar case back in 2011 but the Supreme Court decided to duck the issue. Most people stated they are too scared of ruining the relationship of other countries, however it is not a critical argument to support the lack of social responsibility in big corporations. Personally, I feel that even though human rights is vital for everyone no matter it is local or foreign, corporations should not be immune by justice if they did something that is totally contradicted with ethics.

  6. Diana Isabella February 5, 2018 at 2:37 pm #

    What define Human rights abroad? By definition human rights mean that all humans should share a common standard of living for all peoples and all nations. To extend the definition, the International human rights law describes the necessity from Governments to act in certain ways or to defend against certain acts in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.
    In this case the Arab brank is sued under the Alien Tort Statute for breaking human right and supporting terrorism through transactions happening in New York. This article detailed the debate happening on whether or not the American court should have the right to judge extraterritorial case.
    What is being discussed is the legitimacy of the 1789 Alien tort statute law allowing the courts to have jurisdiction on any civil action committed in violation of a treaty recognized and signed by the United States. It all goes down to what role does the United States should have on foreign dispute when both parties are from outside the United States.
    Under the Alien tort statute the U.S federal courts can have jurisdiction over non-U.S citizens for torts committed against them by other non-citizen outside the United States. However since the famous case Kiobel the ATS law did changed to limit the use of U.S court for external case. The more cases are brought to the court the less the court actually decide on this particular cases.
    Some may argue that the U.S don’t have sovereignty to judge what happen in other country however sovereignty do not apply when the case relate to terrorism. When the government where the case happens is influenced or non-existing the U.S court can and does obtain the sovereignty on the case. Everyone in the world is looking at this decision because is can substantially shake the international law system.
    This court decision to wary case involving corporation may completely shake the established law system. The international application of tort liability has a substantial importance all over the world. It ensures citizens and foreigner the possibility to bring case to a U.S court. It impact foreign business especially American ones that operate under the eventuality to be judged in case of violation of human rights or international treaties. . It was a way to deter many executives of U.S or non- U.S multinational corporations since they could be sued in the United-States for abusing or violating human rights.
    In this case the bank had connection with the United States through the transactions, which should close the debate concerning the Arab bank. But even when the United States are not directly involved they should keep allowing these cases in U.S. As they are the only country in the world that can have such jurisdiction and the last chance for non-citizen to find justice

  7. Jerry Wu February 5, 2018 at 11:10 pm #

    I have always know the United States of America to be a country who both stands up for the defenseless and ourselves. It is our belief that we should fight for others because we feel that everyone has the right to be treated equally. However, there is always someone that questions these kinds of beliefs. In the article, Justices Weigh Immunity for Corporations in Human Rights Cases Abroad, it explains the current events going on overseas and the moral and human rights as well.
    Currently, there is an issue with human rights in one of the most dangerous areas in the world known today as the “Middle East”. This area of the world has been well known for taking the “death penalty” to an extreme level. Any act of crime such as drug-related offenses and murder have is considered a ‘capital punishment’ and is eligible for execution as a result. Because the United States is a land who believes in second chances, we made it our priority to protect those who are in harm’s way. Ever since that moment, we have been continuously fighting the so called ‘evil’ in the Middle East.
    In conclusion, I believe that all corporations should not deserve a pass on this action. My belief is that there should be justice for every crime or wrongdoing committed.

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