US Group to file court action against US vote on IMF loan

[TamilNet, Sunday, 22 March 2009, 14:07 GMT]
Bruce Fein, counsel for Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), a US-based activist group, said Sunday that TAG is preparing to file a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction, and a declaratory judgment to prohibit the United States Treasury Secretary from voting to support the request by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) for $1.9 billion in economic assistance from the International Monetary Fund. TAG’s complaint alleges that a United States vote in favor of the assistance would violate a federal statute, 22 USC 262d, intended to prevent United States financial complicity in harrowing human rights abuses by IMF member governments, Fein said.

US Secretary of Treasury, Timothy Geithner
US Secretary of Treasury, Timothy Geithner
IMF icon
IMF icon
Bruce Fein
Attorney Bruce Fein
Professor Francis Boyle
Professor Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law.
If the Court agrees with TAG’s claim, an injunction or a declaratory judgment would persuade other IMF members who follow the lead of the United States to vote against the assistance, which would kill the GOSL’s application.

Professor Francis Boyle, professor at University of Illinois College of Law earlier commenting on the IMF loan said: “Concerning the proposed loan to Sri Lanka by the International Monetary Fund, United States domestic law makes it quite clear that the Obama Administration is obligated to oppose the loan. And given the weighted voting system for the IMF Board of Directors, a United States vote against the loan would be tantamount to a veto,” and added, “for the Obama Administration to violate the Statute [22 USC 262d] and vote in favor of the proposed IMF loan to support the GOSL's "policy goals" would render the United States government "complicit" with Sri Lanka's genocide.

The U.S. law, 22 USC 262d, declares in relevant part:
    The United States government, in connection with its voice and vote in...the International Monetary Fund shall advance the cause of human rights, including by seeking to channel assistance towards countries other than those whose governments engage in---

    (1) a pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, such as torture or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment, or prolonged detention without charges, or other flagrant denial to life, liberty, and the security of person...."
According to Fein, TAG plans to submit to the court, among other things, the following information as evidence of “pattern of gross violations of Human Rights” by Sri Lanka:
  • Statements by international agencies including UNHCR, RSF, Amnesty and HRW alleging that Sri Lanka has committed war crimes.
  • Video recording of Sri Lanka’s Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse speaking on the killing of Lasantha Wickremetunge, justifying shelling of civilian hospitals, and the arbitrary abduction and incarceration of journalist Vidyadaran
  • Model indictment charging genocide war crimes, and torture against Defense Secretary and Sri lanka's Army Commander Sarath Fonseka submitted to the Department of Justice.
  • Statements by the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband concluding that the GOSL is willing to perpetrate genocide in its conflict with the LTTE.
When asked if IMF may point to the global economic crisis as a cover for the loan, Fein said, "The statute creates no exceptions for responding to a global economic crisis. It states categorically that the policy of the US is not to assist financially through the IMF countries implicated in a pattern of gross human rights abuses period, with no question marks, semi-colons, or commas. Our toughest legal hurdle is that the statute seems to give the Secretary discretion in determining whether the human rights violation threshold has been satisfied, but even discretionary authority can be overturned for an abuse of discretion. And TAG is not asking for an injunction preventing the IMF from funding the GOSL, only to prevent the US casting its 17% minority vote in favor."

Fein further added that a case against the loan would further add to the credibility of TAG's model indictment submitted to the Justice Department which charges Sri Lanka of genocide against Tamils. "If anything, this lawsuit would reinforce our genocide effort by again highlighting the grisly behavior of the Rajapaksa regime and educating the public and government officials about the matter. It will not prejudice the Attorney General or Treasury Secretary against us. Indeed, they might ask TAG that if we believed the GOSL is involved in ongoing genocide, why aren’t we seeking to block IMF or World Bank funding for human rights abuses," Fein said.

Fein added: "We have an overwhelming factual case for believing that the GOSL is guilty of horrifying human rights abuses that satisfy the statutory standard of section 262d. The more difficult question is whether the statute can be enforced in a court of law, which is the usual course, or whether it entrusts the decision exclusively to the Secretary of Treasury. The answer is not self-evident because the statute does not say the Secretary’s decision is not subject to judicial review or that it does not create a private cause of action. Clearly, the intended beneficiaries of the statute are the would-be victims of the human rights violations, and TAG is a stand-in because they cannot sue themselves given their plight in Sri Lanka."


Related Articles:
21.03.09   US Tamils protest against IMF loan to Sri Lanka
19.03.09   US support to IMF's Sri Lanka loan illegal – Prof. Boyle
11.03.09   Stopping Sri Lanka's genocide at ICJ, UN- Prof. Boyle
06.03.09   Forced starvation constitutes an act of Genocide - Prof. Boy..
02.03.09   Britain trying to dodge obligations to prevent Genocide of T..
05.02.09   India legally obliged to prevent GoSL's genocide against Tam..
03.02.09   Gotabaya should be prosecuted for Genocide, war crimes – Pro..

External Links:
BBC:  UN fears Sri Lanka 'war crimes'
UMN: Human rights and United States assistance policies with international financial institutions, 22 U.S.C. § 262d (1994)


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