[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday denied certiorari [order list] in a case in which relatives of guerrilla conflict victims in Colombia sought to sue Chiquita Brand International [corporate website] for human rights abuses. Family members of several thousand victims of paramilitary violence in Colombia filed suit [JURIST report] in April 2010 against Chiquita Brand International, which has admitted to funding United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) [BBC backgrounder], a right-wing paramilitary group. Chiquita admitted to making payments to paramilitaries but argued it was a victim of extortion and was not responsible for any crimes, including torture and murder, committed by the paramilitaries. The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] threw out the charges against Chiquita last year, finding [opinion, PDF] that American courts have no jurisdiction because the events in question occurred in Colombia. The Supreme Court’s denial to hear the case means that the decision of the appellate court remains in place.
This is not the first time Chiquita has faced such claims. In February 2010 a federal judge ruled [JURIST report] that a lawsuit accusing Chiquita of assisting Marxist rebels who killed Colombian missionaries may go forward. The suit was brought [Palm Beach Post report] by family members of five North American missionaries who had worked for the New Tribes Mission (NTM) [mission website] in South America and were killed in separate incidents between 1995 and 1996. Chiquita admitted it had paid AUC for protection of its workers, but it argued that it did not condone the killings. In 2007 Chiquita was fined $25 million [JURIST report] after admitting to making payments of around $1.7 million from 1997 to 2004 to AUC.