Monday, June 8, 2009

Wire: US Supreme Court Rules Iraq Immune From Saddam-Era Lawsuits

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2009 -- Newswire services reported this afternoon that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the current Iraqi government has immunity from lawsuits in this country that seek more than $1 billion in damages for torture and human rights abuses during Saddam Hussein's regime.

The justices unanimously overturned a federal appeals court ruling and decided that Iraq enjoyed sovereign immunity from such claims under the terms of an order issued by former President George W. Bush in 2003 and a law passed by Congress that same year, Reuters news service said.

Foreign nations usually are immune from lawsuits in U.S. courts, but federal law strips that protection from countries found to support terrorism. Under Saddam, Iraq was declared to be a state sponsor of terrorism.

Reuters reported the following details:
The Iraqi government, supported by the Bush and Obama administrations, argued before the Supreme Court that Bush's order and the 2003 law enacted after Saddam's overthrow restored Iraq's immunity.

The U.S.-led invasion deposed Saddam in 2003 and he was executed on December 30, 2006.

U.S. government lawyers argued that the lawsuits threatened a potentially crushing liability and would hinder U.S. objectives of fostering a stable Iraqi government.

One case before the Supreme Court was filed by CBS News correspondent Bob Simon and two other men who said they had been kidnapped and tortured during the first Gulf War in 1991.

In a second case, the children of two American men seized and held by Iraq in the 1990s sued the Baghdad government.
A U.S. appeals court ruled that American courts retained jurisdiction to award damages in lawsuits claiming torture and other abuses that occurred under Saddam.

But the Supreme Court's opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia held that the appeals court was wrong.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Source: Supreme Court: Iraq immune from Saddam-era lawsuits

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