Alien Tort Statute

Alien Tort Statute

Alien Tort Statute

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The Alien Tort Statute (; ATS, also called the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA)) is a section of the United States Code that reads: "The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States." This statute is notable for allowing United States courts to hear human rights cases brought by foreign citizens for conduct committed outside the United States.


The ATS was part of the Judiciary Act of 1789. There is little surviving legislative history regarding the Act, and its original meaning and purpose are uncertain.Carolyn A. D'Amore, Note, Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain and the Alien Tort Statute: How Wide Has the Door to Human Rights Litigation Been Left Open?, 39 Akron L. Rev. 593, 596 (2006); William R. Casto, The Federal Courts' Protective Jurisdiction Over Torts Committed in Violation of the Law of Nations, 18 Conn. L. Rev. 467, 468-69 (1985-1986).Gary Clyde Hufbauer &...
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