Homage to Filártiga
37 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2013 Last revised: 21 Jan 2015
Date Written: 2014
The Supreme Court’s new decision in Kiobel severely restricted human rights litigation under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). In doing so, the Court gravely injured the canonical human rights case of Filártiga. This essay celebrates Filártiga, demonstrating that it survives Kiobel in four key respects: its approach to the sources of international law, its conclusion that international law prohibits torture, its dynamic vision of the way the human rights revolution transformed international law, and its hope that courts can help make real a world without torture. The essay presents Filártiga as a living presence and a beacon for future development of the law. By explaining and celebrating Filártiga’s continuing vitality in this way, this essay also offers a Filártiga-based critique that exposes Kiobel’s limits and weaknesses, and contributes to a budding controversy about the meaning and effects of Kiobel and the future of human rights litigation after Kiobel.
Keywords: Filartiga, Kiobel, Alien Tort Statute (ATS), Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), human rights, torture, international law, litigation, courts
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