[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled [court opinion; PDF] Friday that US courts have jurisdiction under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) [text] to hear certain tort claims brought by apartheid victims [advocacy website] against companies that allegedly collaborated with the South African government in the maintenance of the regime. A number of large corporations – from BP and Exxon to CitiBank and IBM – have been named as defendants in the case. Judge Peter W. Hall [official profile] wrote:
…plaintiffs have alleged, albeit in insufficiently specific terms, that the defendant corporations (a) knowingly and substantially assisted a principal tortfeasor to commit acts that violate clearly established international law norms, and (b) facilitated the commission of international law violations by providing the principal tortfeasors with the tools, instrumentalities, or services to commit those violations with actual or constructive knowledge that those tools, instrumentalities, or services would be (or only could be) used in connection with that purpose. Such allegations, if proven, clearly satisfy the standard for asserting ATCA liability under an aiding and abetting theory.
A suit under the same collaborative liability theory was brought [JURIST report] against Yahoo! [corporate website] in April by the World Organization for Human Rights USA [advocacy website] on behalf of imprisoned Internet activist Wang Xiaoning [advocacy profile]. Reuters has more.