Watch out Israel. This is a precedent-setting case. The Palestinians could very well make a case against Israeli and U.S. corporations tied to Apartheid practices of Israel against the Palestinians.
Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Khulumani Support Group, a national membership-based organisation of victims and survivors of Apartheid gross human rights violations, welcomes the order issued by the United States Supreme Court yesterday that the judgment of the Second Circuit Court of Appeal in the Khulumani International Lawsuit stands. This significant development opens the way for the case to go forward to trial.
The circumstances of the Supreme Court Order are that the Court lacked the necessary quorum of six justices to issue an opinion. Four justices were disqualified, having had to recuse themselves because of either holding investments in or because of having family ties to some of the companies. The Court consequently did not issue an opinion and ordered that the Second Circuit Court decision be affirmed.
The Second Circuit Court decision of October 2007 held that liability of corporations for aiding and abetting the perpetration of gross human rights abuses, does exist and that it can be pled under the Alien Tort Statute (ATCA). Under this statute, US federal district courts have adjudicated "violations of the law of nations or of a treaty of the United States", including violations of core customary principles of human rights by private individuals and corporations. The Khulumani lawsuit targets 23 foreign multinationals for having aided and abetted the perpetration of gross human rights violations in South Africa under apartheid by equipping and financing the apartheid government's military and security agencies. (See list of defending corporations below). All the corporate defendants in the suit had operations in South Africa. Khulumani is seeking damages for specific violations of internationally recognized human rights norms (extrajudicial killing, torture, sexual assault in association with torture, prolonged arbitrary detention, and indiscriminate shootings) by the apartheid government following the UN's classification of apartheid as a crime against humanity.
Having cleared the most serious obstacle to its progress to date, today's decision of the Supreme Court means that the critical arguments that corporations should be held accountable for aiding and abetting the perpetration of gross human rights violations, can now be interrogated. Khulumani Support Group's lawsuit is the most critical test case globally for creating global standards for ethical corporate behaviour and for promoting a culture of corporate responsibility. The lawsuit has the potential to alter the relationship between states, individuals and transnational corporations with respect to human rights. For human rights and social justice advocates, the case has been hailed as a potential catalyst in advancing international human rights law.
The success of this appeal comes in the light of a campaign that has been supported by an overwhelming majority of Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners as well as by numbers of South African and international civil society organisations and individuals.Khulumani Support Group welcomes the fact that the South African government has become increasingly aware of the potential of the case to serve the important objective of advancing an international order of human rights that includes multinational corporations.
Khulumani believes that the reinvigoration of the case at this point in time provides the South African government with the opportunity of clarifying its position on the Khulumani lawsuit and of working with Khulumani to end the impunity of corporations across the globe.
List of defendants: Barclay National Bank Ltd., British Petroleum, PLC, ChevronTexaco Corporation, ChevronTexaco Global Energy, Inc., Citigroup, Inc., Commerzbank, Credit Suisse Group, DaimlerChrysler AG, Deutsche Bank AG, Dresdner Bank AG, ExxonMobil Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Fujitsu, Ltd., General Motors Corporations, International Business Machines Corp., J.P. Morgan Chase, Shell Oil Company, UBS AG, AEG Daimler-Benz Industrie, Fluor Corporation, Rheinmetall Group AG, Rio Tinto Group and Total-Fina-Elf
The following should appear at the end of every post:
According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":
Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.
Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.
Political Campaign Intervention
Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.
Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.
Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:
- Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
- Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
- Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
- Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
- Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office
Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:
- The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
- Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
- We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
- When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
- It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
- We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
- We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
- When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
- We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
- It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)