by Nicole Flatow
The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered another round of arguments in Kiobel v. Shell Petroleum, this time on the question of whether the 200-year-old Alien Tort Statute applies to human rights violations that occur outside the United States.
The ATS and another related statute, the Torture Victim Protection Act, have been used to hold corporations accountable when they commit or are complicit in human rights abuses that include genocide, war crimes and forced labor.
The Supreme Court initially granted review of Kiobel on the question of whether the corporate entities themselves could be held accountable.
But as Bloomberg’s Greg Stohr points out, a ruling on the broader issue of whether U.S. courts can review actions arising elsewhere would “potentially impose more sweeping limits on lawsuits, shielding corporate officers as well as the companies themselves.”