Friday, January 28, 2005

Guantanamo Bay: Boon for Plaintiffs’ Lawyers?

Strangely enough, the war on terrorism is providing a slight boost for plaintiffs lawyers specializing in tort suits alleging violations of international law. This week, the UK released four men who had previously been detained at Guantanamo Bay. Lawyers for the detainees are threatening to sue. A number of such lawsuits have already been filed over Abu Ghraib and the alleged rendition of suspects to third countries.

I'm not a supporter of these sorts of lawsuits due to their effect on an aggressive war on terrorism. But I do recognize that if detainees and suspected terrorists are willing to subject themselves to the discovery process of the U.S. civil litigation system, this does increase the likelihood that those individuals were really innocent. Certainly, these four individuals, if their claims of torture are true, have a great case under the Alien Tort Statute against the U.S. government or U.S. officials (although finding a sympathetic jury might be somewhat difficult).

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