The World in U.S. Courts: Fall 2013 - Alien Tort Statute (ATS)
The district court for the District of Connecticut dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction human rights violation claims asserted under the Alien Tort Statute and the Torture Victims Protection Act. Plaintiffs were members of the Falun Gong movement in China. The defendant, the former chief of state-owned media sources in Wuhan Province, was alleged to have aided in the persecution of Falun Gong members in China by disseminating propaganda that called for the torture of Falun Gong adherents. Plaintiff alleges that defendant specifically directed his propaganda at the United States through various websites. Citing the Kiobel case (discussed in a recent World in U.S. Courts report), the court held that, despite these allegations, it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear the claims because they solely concerned acts and events that occurred outside the United States, in the territory of another sovereign state. The court rejected plaintiff’s contention that the propaganda website was sufficient to overcome the presumption against extraterritorial application of domestic law.