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A Democrat opposed to human rights. And she's one of our senators. - Barbara Boxer 4 Pres 2008 [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Barbara Boxer For President in 2008

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A Democrat opposed to human rights. And she's one of our senators. [Oct. 28th, 2005|11:28 pm]
Barbara Boxer For President in 2008
boxer4pres08
[populisttmh]
On October 17 2005, Diane Feinstein introduced a bill that would gut the human
rights law, the Alien Tort Claim Act (ATCA), that Earthrights
International used against UNOCAL to hold them accountable for human
rights abuses in Burma. Sen. Feinstein is the sole sponsor of the
bill to gut ACTA which was the THIRD act passed by the FIRST
Congress. It is no coincidence that her largest contributor is Chevron
whose case in currently proceeding through the 9th circuit.

PLEASE MAKE A CALL NOW!! If you know people who know Diane please
call them as well. Please feel free to pass on this email. Call
Senator Boxer and have her pressure Sen. Feinstein.

FEINSTEIN NUMBERS

Chief of Staff: Mark Kadesh
(202) 224-3841

CA office Director: Jim Molinari
(415) 393-0707



Thank you very much for your help.
TVD
------------------------------------------

SHORT BACKGROUND:

On Monday, October 17, Senator Feinstein introduced S. 1874, a bill
that would substantially curtail efforts to hold violators of human rights
accountable for their actions. The bill would eviscerate the law known
as the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), making it all but impossible to
sue human rights abusers in federal court. This law is one of the major
tools currently available to hold corporations accountable for human rights abuse. IT MUST STAY IN PLACE.

Chevron is currently being sued by plaintiffs in the Niger Delta who
were shot at while peaceful protesting Chevron's oil production and the
destruction of their land in the Niger Delta. Chevron hired troops that shot at mothers and kids from helicopters.
Chevron also is charged with hiring security people who later burned
down two villages. This is the same area of the world where Ken Saro Wiwa, well
known human rights organizer and writer was working to stop the
destruction of land by Chevron and Shell.

One of Feinstein's largest campaign contributors last year was
Chevron. She is the SOLE sponsor of legislation that guts the law. Feinstein's office has said that she is clarifying the law. But even the current Supreme Court in a case that last year left the major provisions for human rights abuse in tact. If someone needs to clarify the law, it should be the courts, not a Senator in the pocket of big oil.

Senator Feinstein has made no secret of the fact that this legislation
is designed to help multinational corporations. In her remarks when
she introduced the bill, she noted that "numerous companies in California
are in the midst of these lawsuits as defendants," and that the bill is
designed to "balance[] the interests of U.S. companies and human rights
organizations."

CALL FEINSTEIN TODAY and let her know that her introducing S. 1874 is
selling
out to big oil, and Chevron and that you won't stand for it.

MORE DETAILED BACKGROUND:

The ATCA has been an important tool in holding human rights abusers
accountable. Over the past 25 years, dozens of cases have been brought
against torturers, war criminals, slavers, rapists, genocidaires, and
murderers. The estate of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos
has been successfully sued, as has the Bosnian Serb leader (and war
criminal) Radovan Karadzic. Holocaust survivors used the ATCA to sue
Swiss banks who benefited from the Holocaust, resulting in a $1.25 billion
settlement brokered by the U.S. government. And, of course, the recent settlement in the case against Unocal for its complicity in human rights abuses in Burma was the result of an ATCA lawsuit. This lawsuit was the first
against a U.S. corporation for human rights abuses abroad.

The new bill would restrict these suits in several important ways.

First, it would prohibit any suits where a foreign government
is "responsible for committing" the abuse within its own territory. This provision alone would prohibit nearly every ATCA case brought thus far: the case against Marcos was founded on abuses committed by the Philippine government, for example, and the Holocaust cases have their roots in the horrific crimes of the Nazi government of Germany, many of which occurred within Germany.

Second, it provides a limited set of abuses for which lawsuits can be
brought. Although some important human rights abuses are on this list,
including torture, others--including war crimes, crimes against humanity, forced labor, terrorism, and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment-- are not.

Third, it requires that the defendant must be a "direct
participant" in the human rights abuse. This would rule out liability
for those who conspire or aid human rights abuses. Ironically, even though aiding and abetting torture and conspiring to commit torture are crimes under U.S. federal law, this new bill would make these crimes not subject to civil
liability.

Fourth, it would prohibit plaintiffs in human rights cases
from proceeding on a contingency-fee basis, effectively prohibiting
any poor victim of human rights abuses from obtaining justice. Finally, it
allows the U.S. president unilaterally to dismiss any case that it deems to
interfere with U.S. foreign policy.

Senator Feinstein has made no secret of the fact that this legislation
is designed to help multinational corporations. In her remarks when
she introduced the bill, she noted that "numerous companies in California
are in the midst of these lawsuits as defendants," and that the bill is
designed to "balance[] the interests of U.S. companies and human rights
organizations."

Those who care about human rights must come together to oppose this
watering down of the nation's most important human rights law. Now is
not the time to lower the bar on torture, to grant impunity to rapists
and murderers, and to give governments and corporations a freer hand to
commit gross violations of human rights abuses. The U.S. Senate, by a
90-9 vote, recently endorsed prohibiting torture by U.S. troops. To pass
this bill now would be a giant step backward, and would send the wrong signal to
the world.

In the coming days, more detailed analysis of the new bill will be made
available. For the moment, more information on the ATCA is available
at

http://www.earthrights.org/atca/index.shtml, although this website has
not
yet been updated to reflect the new attack on the law.

Thank you for your help.

--------------
Marco Simons
U.S. Legal Director, EarthRights International
1612 K Street NW #401
Washington, DC 20006
202-466-5188 x103
marco@earthrights.org
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: rmac1721
2005-10-30 09:13 am (UTC)
Hey can you give us an LJ Cut please?
(Reply) (Thread)