Supreme Court

Supreme Court Blocks Foreign Human Rights Suits from US Courts

Unanimous ruling


The Supreme Court declared Wednesday that U.S. courts will not be the world's forum for deciding lawsuits alleging human rights abuses by corporations and tyrants on foreign soil.

In a 9-0 decision, the high court tossed out a lawsuit brought by Nigerians against Royal Dutch Petroleum alleging the company conspired with the Nigerian regime in a campaign of rape, torture and murder in the oil-rich delta in the early 1990s.

The suit had become a test of whether U.S. courts could serve as a judicial forum for victims of gross human rights abuses abroad.  Its claims were filed under the recently rediscovered Alien Tort Statute of 1789,  which opened the courts to claims based on the "law of nations."