Facebook Twitter Flickr Pinterest Linkedint Youtube

Yousuf v. Samantar

The first human rights case to address atrocities in Somalia under the Siad Barre regime.

Case Updates

4th Circuit Denies Somali General Samantar Immunity Again!
November 2nd, 2012
In a landmark decision, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has denied Samantar's appeal in the first case to consider the "common law immunity" of foreign officials. The decision denies immunity for human rights abuses like torture and extrajudicial killing and denies absolute deference to the executive branch.
Samantar Case: $21 Million Judgment in Favor of CJA Clients
On August 28, 2012, U.S. Federal Judge Leonie Brinkema awarded $21 million in compensatory and punitive damages against former Somali General Mohamed Ali Samantar. This judgment marks the first time that any Somali government official has been held accountable for the atrocities perpetrated under the Siad Barre regime.
Somali General And Commander Of The Armed Forces Liable For War Crimes
Former Somali General Mohamad Ali Samantar accepted liability before U.S. federal judge Leonie Brinkema for torture, extrajudicial killing, war crimes and other human rights abuses committed against the civilian population of Somalia during the brutal Siad Barre regime. This draws to an end a seven year quest in the U.S. courts for justice for those harmed by General Samantar and troops under his command.
Update in Yousuf v. Samantar: Court Orders Questioning of Former Somali Defense Minister for Abuses
July 1st, 2011
On July 1, 2011, a Magistrate Judge ordered the deposition of General Samantar to proceed. The case is on track for trial before the end of the year.
Yousuf v. Samantar: Ex-Somali Defense Minister is Denied Common Law Immunity for Torture and Killings
On February 15th, 2011, Judge Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that General Samantar is not immune from suit. The court deferred to a statement of interest filed by the U.S. State Department that declared in no uncertain terms that Samantar enjoys no foreign official immunity under the common law. On April 1, 2011, Judge Brinkema denied Samantar's motion for reconsideration of the common law immunity claim and motion to dismiss the case.
Samantar v. Yousuf: Historic Victory at the Supreme Court
On June 1, 2010, by a 9-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the 4th Circuit's decision that the case against General Ali Samantar, former Minister of Defense of Somalia, can proceed. The Court’s unanimous ruling confirms that foreign government officials, who come and avail themselves of the benefits and privileges of living in the U.S., are not above the law.
Samantar v. Yousuf: Victory at the Supreme Court
We are very thrilled with the Court’s decision today. In the United States, our government officials are not above the law – and the Court’s unanimous ruling today confirms that foreign government officials, who come and avail themselves of the benefits and privileges of living in the U.S., are not above the law either.
Supporters of Somali Torture Survivors File Amici Curiae Briefs with the Supreme Court in Samantar v. Yousuf
January 28th, 2010
Members of Congress, retired military officials, career foreign service diplomats, Holocaust Survivors and others file amicus briefs in a landmark case against former Somali Defense Minister Mohammed Ali Samantar.
CJA Files Respondents' Brief with U.S. Supreme Court in Samantar v. Yousuf
January 20th, 2010
Court to decide if former foreign government officials who use torture, rape and killing as tools of repression are above the law, or whether those who avail themselves of all the benefits of living in the U.S. must, like all other Americans, submit themselves to U.S. law.

To learn more, read CJA Executive Director Pamela Merchant's article in the Huffington Post: Is There a War Criminal Living in Your Backyard?
Yousuf v. Samantar Goes Before the Supreme Court
On September 30, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear the first human rights case to address atrocities in Somalia under the brutal Siad Barre regime. The key issue under review is whether the defendant, Virginia resident and former Somali Defense Minister, General Mohamed Ali Samantar, is immune from civil suit in the U.S. for abuses committed in Somalia. No person has ever been held legally responsible for the abuses committed by the military government against the civilian population of Somalia in the 1980s.