Find the right lawyer now

Alien Tort Statute Lawyers

Find a Local Immigration Lawyer near You

What is the “Alien Tort Statute”?

The Alien Tort Statute is a U.S. federal law that allows a non-citizen of the U.S. to bring a civil tort action in a federal court.  Non-citizens are normally very restricted in their ability to bring a lawsuit in a U.S. court.  However, the Alien Tort Statute basically allows an alien to utilize the U.S. federal court system for certain tort violations.

The statute requires that the tort involve some sort of violation of the law of nations or a violation of a U.S. treaty.  Victims of such torts will usually file under this statute if the defendant is officially located in the U.S. or has significant properties and assets in the U.S.  A party that files under the Alien Tort Statute must often satisfy a series of eligibility requirements before a court can have jurisdiction over their claim.

The Alien Tort Statute is also known as the “Alien Tort Claims Act” (ATCA).

What types of Violations Does the Alien Tort Statute Involve?

The Alien Tort Statute generally covers serious violations involving abuses of human rights.  The law usually applies to government entities or persons acting under the color of the official government of another country.  For example, instances of torture or kidnapping by a foreign government might give rise to a claim under the Alien Tort Statute.

In the past it has been relatively difficult for an alien to file suit under the Alien Tort Statute as it is generally applicable in very serious cases.  However, the statute has recently been the focus of several lawsuits in which corporate leaders where held liable for human rights violations committed in connection with their presence in a foreign country. 

So, for example, if a worker was harmed by a U.S. company overseas, they may be able to file suit in a U.S. federal court if the claim involved a violation of international laws.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Claim Involving the Alien Tort Statute?

The Alien Tort Statute, or Alien Tort Claims Act can provide an avenue of relief for certain violations.  You may wish to contact an immigration lawyer if you believe that you have a claim under the ATCA.  Your attorney can advise you on your rights under U.S. laws, and can determine what types of remedies may be available to you.   

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 05-17-2018 01:15 AM PDT

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.