Alien Torts Claims Act

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Originally adopted in the United States as part of the Judiciary Act of 1789, the Alien Tort Claims Act first did not address specific rights, but has subsequently become prominent from the latter part of the 20th century, in various international human rights cases. The original language said the U.S. district courts had jurisdiction "for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States."[1] It became prominent with the 1984 Filartiga v. Pena-Irala case, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found in favor of Argentinians, tortured in Argentina, under the authority of an Argentinean officer who had moved to the U.S.

It is not a full case of universal jurisdiction; there has to be some relationship between the defendants and the U.S.

Later cases included:

It is the basis of the current Mohamed et al. v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. case involving U.S. extraordinary rendition and extrajudicial detention.


  1. 28 USC 1350
  2. 726 F.2d 774 (D.C.Cir.1984)
  3. 72 F.3d 844 (11th Cir.1996)
  4. 25 F.3d 1467 (9th Cir.1994)
  5. 70 F.3d 232 (2d Cir.1995)