U.S. Ruling Says Firms Liable for Abuse Abroad
Overturning an earlier decision, a federal court of appeals panel issued a trailblazing decision yesterday that multi-national energy corporation Unocal can be sued in U.S. courts for abetting and benefiting from civil rights abuses in Burma. The suit brought by thirteen Burmese villagers alleges that the company knew about and ignored civil rights violations including forced labor, murder and rape by soldiers overseeing a natural gas pipeline construction project in which the company was a partner. A federal judge had previously ruled that without ?active participation? Unocal?s knowledge of the use of forced labor was not grounds for a suit---prompting lawyers for the villagers to file a separate suit that is still pending in a California state court.