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Miscellaneous Defences

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Chapter Summary

Defendants in human rights cases often raise defenses that are common to all federal claims. The unusual facts of international human rights claims, however, may complicate application of these common doctrines. For example, the applicable statute of limitations will often be tolled because circumstances in the plaintiffs' home countries make it impossible to seek relief without endangering their lives, or because the defendant is absent from the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Given that most cases involve events that took place in foreign countries, defendants may seek to dismiss for forum non conveniens and failure to exhaust domestic remedies. This chapter addresses these three common defenses to human rights lawsuits. It first analyzes the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) requirement; then it considers whether a similar exhaustion requirement applies to claims under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS).

Keywords: Alien Tort Statute (ATS); defenses; federal courts; human rights cases; Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA)



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