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9th Circuit throws out Rio Tinto genocide suit

Decision ends 13-year-old suit tied to abuses in South Pacific

The 9th Circuit has tossed a lawsuit in which plaintiffs accused the world’s second-largest mining company, Rio Tinto Plc, of genocide.

In 2000, roughly 10,000 current and former residents of the South Pacific island Bougainville sued U.K.-based Rio Tinto for human rights violations and thousands of indigenous peoples’ deaths linked to a polluted mine it once ran. The plaintiffs brought their suit under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows foreign parties to bring civil suits in the U.S. against other parties that have allegedly breached international law in their operations abroad.

On Friday, the 9th Circuit dismissed the case in light of the Supreme Court’s April 22 decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. In that case, the high court limited the scope of the Alien Tort Statute, saying the statute was intended to cover international law violations occurring in the U.S., and that violations outside the country must “touch and concern” U.S. territory.

Read Bloomberg and Reuters for more information.

For more InsideCounsel stories concerning the Alien Tort Statute, read:

Nigerians seek $1 billion from Shell for oil spill pollution

Firestone escapes child labor suit

D.C. Circuit says companies can be sued under Alien Tort Statute


Ashley Post

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