Giuseppe Sandro Mela.
Il problema è alquanto complesso, ma cercheremo di sintetizzarlo al meglio.
Secondo la giurisprudenza americana, vigeva codesta norma:
«The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States»
Il nodo era la liceità di una simili giurisdizione, unitamente a cosa dovesse intendersi per “law of nations” e come dovessero essere interpretati i “treaty of the United States”.
«The Alien Tort Statute (28 U.S.C. § 1350; ATS), also called the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), is a section of the United States Code.
Since 1980, courts have interpreted this statute to allow foreign citizens to seek remedies in U.S. courts for human-rights violations for conduct committed outside the United States.
The ATS was part of the Judiciary Act of 1789. There is little surviving legislative history regarding the Act, and its original meaning and purpose are uncertain. However, scholars have surmised that the Act was intended to assure foreign governments that the U.S. would act to prevent and provide remedies for breaches of customary international law, especially breaches concerning diplomats and merchants.
The ATS may have been enacted in response to a number of international incidents caused by the non-availability of remedies for foreign citizens in the United States. For example, the peace treaty ending the American Revolution provided for the satisfaction of debts to British creditors. The refusal of some states to enforce the payment of such debts prompted Great Britain to threaten to retaliate. In 1784, French diplomat François Barbé-Marbois was assaulted, but no remedy was available to him. The incident was notorious internationally and prompted Congress to draft a resolution asking the states to allow suits in tort for the violation of the law of nations. However, few states enacted such a provision, and Congress subsequently included the ATS in the Judiciary Act of 1789.
From 1789 until 1980, only two courts based jurisdiction on the ATS» [Fonte]
«In 1980, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided Filártiga v. Peña-Irala, which “paved the way for a new conceptualization of the ATS”. In Filartiga, two Paraguayan citizens resident in the U.S., represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, brought suit against a Paraguayan former police chief who was also living in the United States»
«On April 3, 2017, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC, which asks the question: “Whether the Alien Tort Statute… categorically forecloses corporate liability. ….
Exercising legal jurisdiction in the United States over matters that occurred abroad is a controversial practice and some have suggested that Congress eliminate it. ….
The Supreme Court held in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain that the ATS provides a cause of action for violations of international norms that are as “specific, universal, and obligatory” as were the norms prohibiting violations of safe conducts, infringements of the rights of ambassadors, and piracy in the 18th century
Courts have found torture; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; genocide; war crimes; crimes against humanity; summary execution; prolonged arbitrary detention; and forced disappearance to be actionable under the ATS»
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Riducendo in modo draconiano il problema è questo: può una corte distrettuale americana avere competenza nel giudicare un supposto crimine contro l’umanità accaduto all’estero e di cui sia imputato uno straniero?
La posizione dei giudici liberal era chiara: sicuramente sì. Le corti distrettuali americane avevano la potestà giuridica di far ciò, anche nella accezione liberal del termine, ossia di riferite violazioni a ciò che l’ideologia libera identifica come ‘crimini contro la umanità‘ e come ‘diritti fondamentali‘.
La posizione dei giudici conservatori è stata del tutto opposta.
«The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a foreign corporation cannot be sued in U.S. courts for terrorist attacks and other human rights violations abroad»
«The ATS was intended to promote harmony in international relations by ensuring foreign plaintiffs a remedy for international-law violations in circumstances where the absence of such a remedy might provoke foreign nations to hold the United States accountable …. But here, and in similar cases, the opposite is occurring»
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A nostro sommesso avviso, questa sentenza rende onore al buon senso prima ancora che alla giurisprudenza americana.
→ The Hill. 2018-04-24. Supreme Court rules foreign company can’t be sued for terror attack
The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a foreign corporation cannot be sued in U.S. courts for terrorist attacks and other human rights violations abroad.
The court in a 5-4 decision affirmed a lower court ruling that dismissed a lawsuit that 6,000 victims of a terrorist attack tried to bring against Arab Bank, PLC under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) for allegedly financing terrorist attacks in the Middle East.
The victims claimed the Jordanian bank used its New York branch to clear dollar-denominated transactions that benefitted terrorists through the Clearing House Interbank Payments System and to launder money for a Texas-based charity allegedly affiliated with Hamas, a Palestinian militant Islamist group.
In delivering the court’s opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy on Tuesday called the connection between the terrorist attacks at issue in this case and the alleged conduct in the U.S. relatively minor and said that most of the petitioner’s allegations involve conduct that occurred in the Middle East.
“The ATS was intended to promote harmony in international relations by ensuring foreign plaintiffs a remedy for international-law violations in circumstances where the absence of such a remedy might provoke foreign nations to hold the United States accountable,” Kennedy wrote.
“But here, and in similar cases, the opposite is occurring.”
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch joined Kennedy in the majority.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the court’s ruling in an opinion Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined.
Sotomayor said the court’s ruling absolves corporations from responsibility under the ATS for “conscience-shocking behavior.”