Testimony of Chimène Keitner Before the Senate Judiciary Committee on 'The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Coronavirus, and Addressing China’s Culpability'
70 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2020
Date Written: July 28, 2020
On June 23, 2020, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Committee on “The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Corona-virus, and Addressing China’s Culpability.” This document contains the written testimony of Professor Chimène Keitner, as well as responses to 39 questions for the record posed by members of the committee.
Professor Keitner’s opening statement emphasized three main points. First, the United States has more to lose than any other country by removing the shield of foreign sovereign immunity for a pandemic. Second, private litigation will not bring China to the negotiating table, and it will not produce answers or compensation for U.S. victims. Instead, Congress should focus on the inadequate federal response to COVID-19, and on restoring U.S. leadership in global public health.
The questions for the record covered issues including the FSIA, other obstacles to obtaining damages from civil suits, the consequences of domestic suits against foreign states, alternative methods for pursuing accountability, U.S. exposure to litigation risk, discovery of U.S. government records in cases against China, regulating live wildlife markets and the international wildlife trade, and President Trump’s praise of China’s COVID-19 response.
On July 20, Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) and seven Republican cosponsors introduced a new bill entitled the “Civil Justice for Victims of COVID Act” that combines features of previous bills introduced to amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) “to strip foreign sovereign immunity of certain foreign states to secure justice for victims of novel corona-virus in the United States.” A business meeting to consider the bill, along with several judicial nominations, was scheduled for July 30.
Keywords: Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, China, Corona-Virus, Trans-Boundary Harm, Litigation
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