Business groups attack 1789 US Alien Tort Statute

A COALITION of major business groups has filed an amicus brief at the United States Supreme Court calling on it to “clarify” the US’s 1789 Alien Tort Statute, which they claim is being abused by special interest groups.

The International Criminal Court, the United States Council for International Business, the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Foreign Trade Council and the National Association of Manufacturers jointly filed the statement.

It claims the statute should not be used to privately sue non-US companies in US courts for alleged human rights, labour and environmental offences in third countries. The international chamber has previously raised concerns about liability claims “against a large number of companies” for losses suffered by non-whites in apartheid South Africa, for instance.

The brief calls on the court to declare that the alien statute is not a basis for private lawsuits that may affect US foreign policy. The groups have intervened in a case where a Mexican claims the US government acted illegally when arresting him in Mexico over allegations that he murdered a US narcotics agent.