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Federal judge allows genocide case to proceed over US, Canadian objections

[JURIST] US District Court Judge Denise Cote has ruled that a suit filed by the First Presbyterian Church of Sudan against Canadian oil and gas producer Talisman Energy [corporate website] should continue, despite US and Canadian government attempts to have the case dismissed. The church filed suit [PDF complaint] under the Alien Tort Claims Act [text; NPR audio commentary], providing US district courts with original jurisdiction over certain tort claims filed by aliens, claiming Talisman collaborated with the Sudanese government to commit gross human rights violations against the non-Muslim, African Sudanese population. The suit alleges that the violations, including extrajudicial killing, forcible displacement, war crimes, kidnapping and rape, amounted to genocide. The crimes allegedly took place when Talisman worked with the Sudanese government to secure oil fields. Cote's decision not to dismiss the lawsuit came despite a letter from the Canadian Embassy describing the case as "an infringement in the conduct of foreign relations by the government of Canada." The US State Department also sent a letter sharing these concerns, but didn't take a position on the merits of the case. According to Judge Cote, "Even giving substantial deference to the Canada letter, Talisman has not shown that dismissal of this action is appropriate" and "the United States and the international community retain a compelling interest in the application of the international law proscribing atrocities such as genocide and crimes against humanity." AP has more.

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