Judge agrees with Afghan groups: 9/11 families cannot claim billions from Central Bank of Afghanistan
A federal judge found that 9/11 families and other U.S. victims cannot recover billions of dollars from the Central Bank of Afghanistan to satisfy judgments against the Taliban. The report and recommendation, handed down by Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn on Friday afternoon, is a victory for Afghan civil society groups, which argued in an amicus brief filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights that the $3.5 billion in blocked assets belong to the people of Afghanistan and should be used to alleviate the devastating humanitarian crisis there.
At issue are $7.1 billion that the previous government of Afghanistan placed in the New York Federal Reserve. President Biden froze the funds after the Taliban takeover in August 2021.The Afghan groups’ brief points out that the target of the 9/11 lawsuits is the Taliban, not the state of Afghanistan, and that U.S. courts have long differentiated a state from its rulers. While the amici organizations believe the plaintiffs deserve compensation, to allow them to seize these particular funds would harm Afghans, not the Taliban, who would be using the people’s money to pay off their debts.
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UN committee report presses U.S. on slavery reparations for first time, spotlights environmental racism in “Cancer Alley”
For the first time, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is calling on the U.S. government to begin the process of providing reparations to descendants of enslaved people. The recommendation comes in the committee’s report on its review of U.S. compliance with the CERD treaty. The committee also took the unusual step in its countrywide review of citing human rights violations in a specific state: environmental racism in Louisiana's “Cancer Alley.”
“We traveled over 10,000 miles to get the support of the UN because, unfortunately, our grave concerns about pollution in Cancer Alley are ignored by our local, state, and even federal officials,” said Joy Banner, co-founder of The Descendants Project with her sister Jo Banner. “We’re appreciative to have the amplification of the UN and expect the U.S. to take our demands seriously.”
The committee’s report incorporates several of the proposals of the Louisiana delegation that we accompanied to Geneva earlier this month. Appearing before the committee, leaders from three grassroots organizations – the Descendants Project, Inclusive Louisiana, and Concerned Citizens of St. John Parish – detailed the longstanding failure of government at all levels to protect their historic Black communities from the many harms of toxic industry, including the profound disregard for the burial grounds of their ancestors.
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Last week, together with over 290 organizations from around the world, we sent a letter to President Biden demanding immediate action in response to the Israeli government’s latest authoritarian assault on Palestinian civil society, when Israeli military forces raided and shut down the offices of seven Palestinian human rights and community organizations in the occupied West Bank.
A threat against the Palestinian human rights movement is a threat to all justice movements. Share the letter and join us in demanding that President Biden take concrete steps to protect our colleagues and to eliminate the conditions that make their vital work so necessary.
Read the full letter on our website.
September 6, 2022