International Human Rights
Bruce Fein commands expertise in four cornerstones of modern International Human Rights Law: the Torture Victims Protection Act; the Alien Tort Claims Act, the Convention Against Torture; and, the Genocide Convention.
The TVPA endows victims of torture or extrajudicial killings perpetrated under color of foreign law to bring civil actions for damages in United States courts against individual wrongdoers. There is no requirement that either the plaintiff or defendant be citizens or resident of the United States. The TVPA is the most advance international human rights statute in the world.
TVPA claims are commonplace in nations currently beset by strife, for example, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Nigeria, or Sri Lanka, but practical matters of collecting TVPA evidence, asserting personal jurisdiction over defendants, or retaliation against plaintiffs or their families in their home countries create formidable barriers to initiating TVPA suits.
Mr. Fein litigated a major TVPA suits against the President of Sri Lanka for extrajudicial killings perpetrated during the Sri Lanka’s protracted civil war. Invocation of Head of State Immunity by the United States State Department ultimately stymied the lawsuit.
The Alien Tort Claims Act is both broader and narrower than the TVPA. It is available only to aliens. On the other hand, the types of claims recognized by the ATCA include all torts in violation of international law or treaties of the United States.
Mr. Fein has written extensively on the Genocide Convention and the distinction between genocide and crimes against humanity.
He submitted an amicus brief on behalf of Uighur detainees at Guantanamo Bay challenging the legality of their indefinite detentions. The case was ultimately dismissed as moot when the United States conceded error and found alternate homes for all but a handful. He also consulted in the landmark Supreme Court case of Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723 (2008) which held that Guantanmo Bay detainees were entitled to challenge the legality of their executive detentions as enemy combatants in federal courts.