19 April 2012
US Supreme Court rules that victims of torture can only bring claims against individuals, not against organizations
On April 18 the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the family of an American citizen killed during a visit to the West Bank may not sue the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization under the 1991 Torture Victim Protection Act.
The case was brought by the family of Azzam Rahim, a naturalized American citizen. According to their lawsuit, Mr. Rahim was arrested by intelligence officers of the Palestinian Authority during a 1995 visit to the West Bank. The officers took him to a prison in Jericho, where he was tortured and killed.
Justice Sotomayor recognized that it is sometimes hard to identify those who torture and kill on behalf of organizations, much less to find them, sue them and collect damages. However, she wrote that the limits in the law were a product of deliberate choices by Congress.