WASHINGTON, DC (Somalilandpress) — CJA announced today that nine amicus curiae briefs were filed with the United States Supreme Court yesterday in support of the respondents in the case of Samantar v. Yousuf, NO. 08-1555. In this case, the Court will decide if former foreign government officials – who, after using their power to order torture, rapes, and killings of innocent civilians – can choose to live in the United States while refusing to submit to its laws and refusing to accept responsibility for their actions.

The key issue under review by the Supreme Court is whether Fairfax, Virginia resident and former Somali Defense Minister Mohammed Ali Samantar can be held accountable under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) – or whether he is immune under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act from civil suit in the U.S. for human rights abuses committed in Somalia. The TVPA, passed by Congress in1991, provides that the U.S. will not be a safe haven for perpetrators of the worst human rights abuses and that foreign government officials who chose to come to the United States after torturing and killing cannot claim to be above the law and will be held accountable for their actions in U.S. courts.
[ad#Google Adsense (336×280)]
» All of the amicus briefs filed today are available here.

Some of the briefs filed in support of the respondents include:

Members of Congress: Senator Arlen Specter (PA), Senator Russ Feingold (WI), and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX) state that Congress intended for the Torture Victim Protection Act to apply to individuals and that the legislative record shows that Congress considered the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) when the TVPA was written, and determined that the FSIA would not bar suits under TVPA.  Sen Specter authored the TVPA, which was signed into law in 1991.

Military Officials:  The brief from retired military officials, including three star generals, states that the military prohibition on torture and stringent accountability measures encourage reciprocity with other countries by, among other things, allowing the U.S. to demand better protection for its servicemen and women.  In addition, military officials write that human rights violators like Samantar create unstable countries that lead to U.S. military involvement. They question why – after putting U.S. troops in harms way to battle people like Samantar – the U.S. would turn around and provide Samantar with a safe haven years later.

Career Foreign Service Diplomats:  Ambassador Thomas Pickering is among the career diplomats who state that withholding immunity will not harm U.S. foreign policy.  The brief argues that human rights violators must be held accountable and that sheltering former foreign officials behind an impenetrable wall of sovereign immunity is inappropriate.

Holocaust Survivors and Darfur Groups:  Holocaust survivors and Darfur groups – including SaveDarfur.org which represents over 130 million people — argue that the world learned from the Nuremberg trials that individuals can be held accountable for their bad deeds and that they cannot hide behind government immunity.

U.S. Government:  The United States Government writes that foreign officials’ immunity should be governed by the principles of immunity articulated by the Executive Branch – not the FSIA.  The brief states that the FSIA sets forth a general rule of immunity for a “foreign state,” but makes no reference to the immunity of individual foreign officials.  The Government states that the FSIA’s text, structure and legislative history demonstrate that Congress did not intend the FSIA to govern such determinations or to displace Executive Branch principles governing the immunity of current and former officials. The brief raises the question of whether an individual like Samantar who engages in torture and extrajudicial killing and then chooses to reside in the US would merit immunity under common law.

Additional amicus curiae briefs were filed yesterday by:

Somali academics/historians including I.M. Lewis, Lee Cassanelli, Peter Pham, Gerard Prunier, and Dr. Hussein Bulhan

Somaliland Foreign Minister Mr. Abdillahi Mohamed Duale

Human rights groups, including Human Rights First, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and religious organizations

International and Comparative Law professors, including Frederic Kirgis, Ved Nanda, Leila Sadat, Mathias Reimann, Steven Ratner, Mary Ellen O’Connell and David Bederman

Professors of International Dispute Resolution, including Burbank, Richard Bixbaum, David Caron, Kevin Clermont, William Dodge, Thomas Lee, Michael Ramsey and Edward Swaine

The Center for Justice and Accountability is working with lead Supreme Court counsel Patricia Millett of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and co-counsel Cooley Godward Kronish LLP on this matter.  This case is part of Akin Gump’s pro bono human rights & refugee practice.

Source: The Center of Justice and Accountability (CJA), 28 January 2010


  1. Finally, i hope this terrible murderer will be persucuted . I pray for him that he will be sentenced for the electric chair or life that's where he belongs to.

    • It doesn't really matter whether he gets presecuted or not, nothing is above Allah's laws and court and soon he will have to answer to his Lord. Dont worry what he does or the American court does to him in this wordly world.
      A greater day than the High Court awaits for all of us including him and nothing can wash the blood from his hands.

  2. While I agree in the grand vision you mention Jubba only by prosecuting war criminals will Somali politicians start to consider their actions more carefully. What hope is there that current military leaders will moderate their behaviour due to concerns about future prosecution when people like Samatar are living free in the US?

    • I agree with your view there too Plander, I think it's also important to send a clear message to all the Somali warlords, dictators etc, the US cant only presecute what it calls "leaders of terrorist groups in Somalia", they also need to punish a man like Samatar, who terrorised thousands if not a million of innocent lives.

      The US cant request Somali terrorist leaders while it funds man like Samatar, that's hypocracy. Always something is wrong with America.

  3.  Mr. Samatar,

    You and your cronies can run from the law for sometime but you can't hide your days are numbered.

  4. If criminals like Samatar were not brought to justice and pay for hideous crimes by the International Community, we will follow their tracks and hunt them down like the Mossad, sooner or later and when the time is right.
    Living a comfortable live for twenty year overseas, they already think that they got away with murder.

    United States can not brag about Human Rights, harbour criminals like Samatar. You have to talk the talk and walk the walk! You must do what you preach America or please, don't bluff the world that you are against human rights violations.

  5. Accounding to the US justice System, Samatar could be find guilty, however this means civil not criminal. that means he maybe respondable for his bad behaviar financially, but he most likely he will not go to jail for this.