Universal Jurisdiction

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Committing Piracy on Dry Land: Liability for Facilitating Piracy

An important case before US Courts at present is US v Ali, where the defendant is accused of, among other offences, aiding and abetting piracy by acting as an interpreter. (See the ruling on a preliminary motion here.) The case clearly has implications for other facilitators of piracy, such as financiers and the bosses of pirate gangs. However, it now appears the presiding judge, US District Judge Ellen Huvelle, has described the aiding and abetting piracy charge as an “outrage” given that US prosecutors can only place the defendant as present on a hijacked vessel - while it was still on the high seas - for less than 30 minutes. (See reports here and here.) The defendant did, however, allegedly spend 69 days on the vessel after its capture in his role as translator and intermediary for ransom negotiations (presumably while it was detained closer to shore). The case may raise a number of features some would find objectionable (including the fact that US authorities lured the defendant to…

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Kiobel: The US steals the headlines in first round of supplemental briefs on universal civil jurisdiction under the Alien Tort Statute

In an earlier post, I considered the US Supreme Court’s re-argument order in the case of Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum (“Kiobel”). The order concerned whether US federal courts may rely on the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) to exercise jurisdiction over human rights abuses which have no connection to the US, i.e. abuses committed by non-US…

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The Application of Universal Jurisdiction in South African Law

Christopher Gevers is a Lecturer in the School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He is author of the War and Law Blog. One of the contentious issues that arises in debates about universal jurisdiction is whether international law allows for what has been called “universal jurisdiction in absentia”. The…

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Briefly Noted: New Report on Somali Piracy

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee released its report on Somali piracy on 5 January 2012.* I acted as a specialist advisor to the committee, so I will not offer a full analysis but simply highlight some points of interest: the report is critical of the failure to contain piracy in the Indian Ocean;…

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Kenya Invades Somalia Invoking the Right of Self-Defence

Vidan Hadzi-Vidanovic is a doctoral candidate at the University of Nottingham School of Law. At a press conference held in Nairobi on 15 October 2011, the Kenyan ministers of defence and interior announced that Kenyan security forces will engage in military operations against the Al-Shabaab militants in Somali territory. They invoked Article 51 of the UN Charter as a…

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