The Merida Initiative and the Tort Claims Act: Human Rights Violations and Foreign Non-Contractual Civil Liability in the United States

Pastora Melgar Manzanilla, Daniel Márquez Gómez

Abstract

This article discusses the possibility that Mexican victims of human rights violations may take advantage of the contents of the Alien Tort Claims Act to sue Mexican officials for extra-contractual civil liability in the event that they suffer damages derived from the use of firearms, technology, or otherwise, linked to the Merida Initiative. We analyze the Merida Initiative to Combat Illicit Narcotics and Reduce Organized Crime Authorization Act of 2008, and the Alien Tort Claims Act, also known as the Alien Tort Statute. We also refer to related Acts such as the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act, as well as to cases that help to understand the scope and limitations of the Alien Tort Claims Act. We conclude that the Merida Initiative and the resources allocated under it have deepened human rights violations in Mexico, and that the Alien Tort Claims Act could be invoked by Mexicans victims of such violations and of the “war” against drug trafficking under the framework of the Merida Initiative.

Keywords

Humans rights; Alien Tort Claims Act; Merida Initiative to Combat Illicit Narcotics and Reduce Organized Crime Authorization Act

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