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International Human Rights Violations and Alien Tort Litigation

International Human Rights Violations and Alien Tort Litigation

U.S. federal courts, international courts, and the United Nations
“Human beings are members of a whole
In creation, of one essence and soul
If one member is inflicted with pain
Other members, uneasy will remain
If you have no sympathy for human pain
The name of human you cannot retain.”
– Saadi, 1257

The Marshall Taheri Law Group, an A-V rated litigation boutique law firm, is comprised of attorneys who have effectively represented individuals from more than eighty-five (85) countries. Their global perspectives enable them to diligently provide exceptional advisory and litigation services, domestically and internationally, through the utilization of their keen legal, strategic, and communication skills coupled with a practical approach to their clients’ specific needs.

Practice Areas

Our Attorneys

The firm’s objective: to protect the human rights of clients and communities around the world.

I. International Human Rights

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document recognized globally reflecting that everyone is entitled to live with freedom, equality, and dignity. However, the United Nations recognizes the origin of human rights existing since the year 539 B.C., when Cyrus the Great, the first king of ancient Persia, declared that all people had the right to choose their own religion, and established racial equality. These decrees and others were recorded on a baked clay cylinder in the Akkadian language in cuneiform script and known today as the Cyrus Cylinder. The Cyrus Cylinder, an ancient record, is recognized as the world’s first charter of human rights. It has been translated into the six (6) official languages of the United Nations and its provisions parallel the first four (4) Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

International jurisdiction is applied when foreign nationals are victims of human rights violations which occurred overseas. Further, international jurisdiction is sought to obtain independent and impartial justice and compensation.

II. Alien Tort Claims Act

The Alien Tort Statute (ATS), also called the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) of 1789 is a section of the United States Code that 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.” The scope of the ATS expanded in the 1980’s, due to groundbreaking cases which sought civil damages in U.S. federal courts. Since the 1980’s other U.S. courts have opened to the filing of cases by foreign plaintiffs with some acknowledging that corporations may be held liable while meeting certain criteria.

This statute is notable for allowing United States courts to hear human rights cases brought by foreign nationals for conduct committed outside the United States. The law has recently become significant as a means of holding government, military, and corporate leaders responsible for the human rights abuses, including torture, committed as a result of their presence in a foreign land.

Our law firm pursues the violation of human rights through legal avenues such as the Alien Tort Claims Act. When human rights violations occur overseas, they can be difficult to prosecute. The victims may face reprisal in their home countries and if they flee, returning home could be dangerous. An individual country may not have laws against activities like torture or may fail to take the case seriously. Thus, the Alien Torts Statute is available to victims of human rights abuses who want to obtain justice.

The Alien Torts Statute can be a powerful weapon as a civil lawsuit action for those seeking justice for human rights abuses. The types of human rights abuses that may be subject to the Alien Torts Statute action include:

  • Torture
  • Extrajudicial killing
  • Forced disappearance
  • Crimes against humanity
  • Cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
  • Prolonged arbitrary detention
  • Genocide
  • War crimes
  • Slavery
  • State-sponsored sexual violence and rape


The Alien Torts Statute may result in monetary damages awarded to the plaintiffs. Victims pursue their claims with the perspective of making a vocal impact on the culture of their homeland where injustice has occurred.

Allow our legal team at the Marshall Taheri Law Group to evaluate your claim, so that justice may be pursued.