On September 27, 2007, CJA authored and submitted a brief with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of CJA and three torture treatment and refugee service providers: Survivors International, Survivors of Torture International and Heartland Alliance.

BACKGROUND

Matar v. Dichter was a federal class action lawsuit against Avi Dichter, former Director of Israel’s General Security Service (GSS), on behalf of Palestinians who were killed or injured in July 2002, when a one-ton bomb was dropped on a residential apartment building in Gaza City in a midnight “targeted assassination” operation.

In May 2007, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York  dismissed the case, finding that Dichter enjoyed immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The court accepted the Israeli government’s argument that Dichter was acting in the course of his official duties.  The plaintiffs appealed the dismissal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Our brief in support of the appeal argued that the district court in Matar erred when it dismissed the Torture Victim Prevention Act (TVPA) claims based FSIA.  CJA’s brief argued that Congress clearly intended that the TVPA would apply to former government officials accused of war crimes, extrajudicial killing, torture, and other gross human rights violations.  Our brief also explained that our clients would be without a remedy if all government officials were given immunity under the FSIA.  Oral argument was heard on January 16, 2009.

OUTCOME

On April 16, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the case against Dichter.  The court essentially adopted the view argued by the U.S. government, that even if the FSIA did not apply, Dichter would still be immune under the common law principle that courts  should defer to the executive branch on whether to assume jurisdiction over actions against foreign sovereigns and their instrumentalities.

LEGAL DOCUMENTS

CJA Amicus Brief
27 Sep 07 Amicus Brief: CJA
Related Documents
16 Apr 09 Second Circuit Court Decision
09 Jan 09 Plaintiffs’ 28j Letter re: Yousuf v. Samantar
29 Oct 08 DOJ Letter Responding to Plaintiffs’ 28j Letter re: In Re Terrorist Attacks
26 Aug 08 Plaintiffs’ 28j Letter re: In Re Terrorist Attacks