U.S. Court: Alien Tort Statute/Torture Victim Protection Act




On December 22, 2004, CJA and co-counsel the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) brought suit under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) against Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, former leader of the Haitian paramilitary death squad FRAPH. The ATS and TVPA allow for civil suits in U.S. courts to remedy a limited set of human rights violations.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the suit alleges that Constant oversaw a campaign of murder, mutilation, rape, and other forms of torture in Haiti. Our clients, whose identities are kept secret for their protection, were three courageous women who endured this brutality.

On August 16, 2006, the court entered a default judgment against Constant, finding him liable for crimes against humanity and torture, including rape and the systematic use of violence against women. The court awarded our clients $19 million in damages. The judgment marked the first time that anyone has been held accountable for the state-sponsored campaign of rape in Haiti during the 1991-1994 military junta.

Constant appealed the judgment, but on December 1, 2009 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the decision and rejected Constant’s appeal. Constant’s petitions for a rehearing by the full bench of Second Circuit judges, and for Supreme Court review, were denied.