The Center for Victims of Torture estimates that as many as 1.3 million torture victims are living in the United States, but few of them have ever sought recourse against their offenders. Instead, most victims of torture flee the region where they are at risk of being further victimized and seek refuge in the United States. Fortunately, the United States provides a judicial method of recovery for those who have suffered, even when that suffering took place abroad at the hands of a foreign individual. The Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, or TVPA, allows torture victims to pursue damages in a United States civil suit against individuals who, acting under the color of law, carried out acts that the TVPA defines as torture. Unfortunately, however, few of these claims will be decided on their merits because of a personal jurisdiction roadblock. Despite the legislature’s intent to condemn torture that “violate[s] standards accepted by virtually every nation,” the lawmakers were cautious not to “turn the U.S. courts into tribunals for torts having no connection to the United States whatsoever.” This note argues that if the United States truly desires to be a champion of human rights and hold torturers accountable for their heinous acts, the Supreme Court and Judicial Conference must rewrite Rule 4(k)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to adopt an expanded view of personal jurisdiction that allows for foreign individuals to be brought to U.S. courts to have the claims against them adjudicated.
Michael J. Stephan,
Persecution Restitution: Removing the Jurisdictional Roadblocks to Torture Victim Protection Act Claims,
84 Brook. L. Rev.
Available at: https://brooklynworks.brooklaw.edu/blr/vol84/iss4/7