US Supreme Court, in a narrow reading of a federal anti-torture law, ruled Wednesday against a son who sought redress from the PLO and Palestinian Authority for the death of his father, a US citizen, during a visit to the West Bank.
The relatives of a US citizen who was allegedly tortured and killed by Palestinian intelligence officers on the West Bank may not sue the Palestinian Authority or the PLO for damages under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA).
The US Supreme Court ruled 9 to 0 on Wednesday that the 1991 antitorture law authorizes civil lawsuits only against an individual who actually carried out the torture or extrajudicial killing – not against an organization with which the alleged torturer or killer was associated.
The unanimous decision is important because it sharply limits the amount of damages available to victims under the TVPA by making clear that recovery is contingent on the assets of the alleged torturer or killer.
In contrast, if the statute had been interpreted to extend potential liability to deep-pocket organizations, significant recoveries would be more likely.
The 11-page decision in the case, Mohamad v. Palestinian Authority (11-88), was written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.