Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)


Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, 


On The Supreme Court’s Opinion In Samantar v. Yousuf


June 1, 2010

[The Supreme Court today ruled that the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act does not provide immunity to foreigners accused of torture.  Solicitor General Elena Kagan filed a “friend of the Court” brief urging the Court to affirm the decision of the Fourth Circuit.  The Supreme Court ruled unanimously to affirm the Fourth Circuit’s decision that the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act does not grant individual immunity. Senator Patrick Leahy was the lead Democratic sponsor of the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), which was enacted in 1991 to provide a federal cause of action against any individual who subjects any person to torture or extrajudicial killing.  Leahy has spoken in support of upholding this important human rights law.]

“Today’s unanimous decision from the Court in Samantar v. Yousuf is an important victory in our continuing effort to restore America’s role as a leading protector of human rights.  The Supreme Court ruled that the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act does not give alleged torturers residing in the United States blanket immunity.  In enacting the Torture Victim Protection Act, Congress contemplated its use against former officials of foreign countries who choose to come to the United States after leaving their positions of authority.  The United States should not provide safe haven to those who use their position of authority to commit torture.”