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There must be nowhere for torturers to hide
The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) today welcomed news that the US Supreme Court has ruled that ex-officials of foreign governments do not have automatic immunity from lawsuits alleging torture.
The case leading to the ruling was brought against former Somali Prime Minister Mahamed Ali Samantar by Somalis, now residing in the US. The plaintiffs – a group of former Somali citizens – alleged Mr. Samantar commanded his troops to detain, torture, and kill members of Somalia's Isaaq clan. The case was brought under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, but a judge blocked the suit on the grounds that the claim conflicted with the law granting immunity to foreign states.
The Supreme Court justices held that although the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 shields foreign states from being sued in US courts, it does not shield former officials of those states.
“We applaud the US Supreme Court for this ruling, yet we remain concerned that the US State Department has stated that such cases are ‘ordinarily appropriate for diplomatic, rather than legal, resolution’. Torture is a crime so grave that there must be no room for torturers to escape justice” added Segal.
“From our work in support of torture survivors across the world we know that justice heals. It is a crucial part of helping victims of the barbaric practice of torture to rebuild their lives,” said Sune Segal, Head of Communications at The IRCT.
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The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims is an independent non-profit global organisation with a membership of more than 140 rehabilitation centres in over 70 countries and with over 25 years' experience.
The work of the IRCT is threefold:
* Rehabilitation of torture victims and their families
* Ensuring victims' access to justice
* Eradication of torture