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WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- America's Wire today released a commentary by Bashe Yousuf, a torture victim from Somalia, who is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the law allowing victims of human rights violations to bring civil action against persecutors living in the U.S., as well as individuals and corporations who helped facilitate abuses.
In the case, Kiobel v. Shell, the oil giant is accused of helping Nigeria's former dictatorship torture and kill environmentalists. Mr. Yousuf writes that "Shell is trying to deny the plaintiffs—and all victims of foreign human rights crimes—the right to seek justice in U.S. courts…even when the defendants who committed or financed these crimes find refuge in this country."
Under the Alien Tort Statute, a 200 year-old law, torture victims can sue their persecutors as Mr. Yousuf has done. In Somalia, Mr. Yousuf joined a civil society group in the 1980s. He was tortured under the direction of General Mohamad Ali Samantar, the former Somali Minister of Defense. He was bound by ropes in excruciating positions, suffocated with water, and electrocuted over a seven year period.
After receiving asylum in the U.S., he learned that General Samantar lived in Virginia. "My lawyers at the Center for Justice and Accountability, a San Francisco-based human rights organization, helped me and other survivors bring a case against Samantar," he writes, noting that in August a judge ordered the General to pay $21 million to victims. "The judgment sent a clear message: there will be no safe haven in the United States for human rights abusers."
Now, however, Mr. Yousuf and other torture victims worry that if Shell wins its case, oppressors will go unpunished.
Mr. Yousuf's commentary, as well as other articles and commentaries, are available free of charge from America's Wire. Go to www.Americaswire.org and click downloads (right column) to publish the article. America's Wire provides mainstream newspapers, community papers, websites, ethnic publications and wire services with stories and commentaries reporting on structural inequities and the people and communities impacted. America's Wire is operated by the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and is made possible through a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
Michael K. Frisby
SOURCE America’s Wire