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Filartiga v. Pena-Irala, Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 30 June 1980
United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit (last accessed on 26.09.2013)

The suit was brought by an alien residing in the United States against a former official of Paraguay then visiting the United States. The complaint alleged torture of the plaintiff's brother (see below) leading to his death. The court of appeals ruled that deliberate torture perpetrated by a person invested with official authority was a violation of customary law supporting the jurisdiction of the district courts over "a civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations." (see 28 U.S.C. § 1350) The court further declared that "indeed, for purposes of civil liability, the torturer has become like the pirate and slave trader before him hostis humani generis, an enemy of all mankind" (at 890). The court found that torture perpetrated by a person invested with official authority violates universally accepted human rights norms, regardless of the nationality of the parties. Whenever an alleged torturer is found and served with process by an alien within US territory, 28 U.S.C. § 1350 applies and provides federal jurisdiction.

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