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Should Americans be able to sue other governments?

by Jason Thomson
(United States)

A bill that would permit exactly that, intended to allow Sept. 11 victims' families to sue Saudi Arabia, has passed through Congress. It was condemned Monday by the Gulf Cooperation Council.


The head of the Saudi-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – a collection of six Gulf Arab states – released a statement Monday condemning the latest development in the journey of JASTA, a bill passed Friday by the House of Representatives that would allow families of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack victims to sue the Saudi Arabian government.

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, passed by the Senate in May and the House on Friday, was originally conceived amid speculation that some Saudi officials had connections to attackers who had a hand in the attacks of 2001, which took the lives of almost 3,000. If made into law, JASTA would allow Americans to sue foreign governments suspected of ties to terror attacks on US soil. Yet President Barack Obama has long said he would veto the legislation, citing concerns that it could usher in a torrent of similar claims from abroad against the US government.

The proposed law is "contrary to the foundations and principles of relations between states and the principle of sovereign immunity enjoyed by states," Abdullatif al-Zayani, the secretary-general of the GCC, said in a Monday statement.

"This law is not equal with the foundations and principles of relations among states, and represents a clear violation given its negative repercussions and dangerous precedents," Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the federation's foreign minister, said in the Emirates' own statement.

Of the 19 hijackers involved in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, 15 were Saudi nationals. This July, Congress released declassified pages of a report into 9/11, which rekindled suggestions that the Saudi officials had ties to some of the hijackers, though further US investigations found no evidence of the claims.

Read more...http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2016/0912/Should-Americans-be-able-to-sue-other-governments-Gulf-states-say-no

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