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Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law [MPEPIL]

United States Alien Tort Statute

Anja Seibert-Fohr

Subject(s):
US Alien Tort Statute — Freedom from slavery or forced labour — Torture — Human rights remedies — Targeted killing

Published under the auspices of the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law under the direction of Rüdiger Wolfrum.

1 Enacted in 1789 by the United States Congress, the Alien Tort Claims Act (now codified as the Alien Tort Statute [‘ATS’]) is the basis for civil suits by aliens seeking damages for violations of public international law in United States (‘US’) federal courts. Its current text reads: ‘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.’ At the forefront of civil suits under the ATS are claims of serious human rights violations, such as...
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