Bush Administration Blocks Corporate Responsibility Overseas
With the State Department urging a US court to dismiss a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corporation for its operations in Indonesia, the Bush administration is making its second bid this year to restrict international corporate responsibility for human rights violations abroad, the New York Times reported today. The suit alleges that, in hiring the Indonesian military to provide security for their gas extraction and liquification project, Exxon Mobil—the world’s biggest energy company—was complicit in the torture, murder, and rape of villagers in Aceh province. However, the State Department suggested the suit might cause Exxon Mobil to leave Indonesia, in turn allowing Chinese oil companies to gain greater prominence in Southeast Asia, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Under the Clinton administration, the State Department took a neutral stance on cases of this kind, according to the Nation. "We have an administration that is much closer to corporate interests," said Bama Athreya, the deputy director of the International Labor Rights Fund, the law firm representing plaintiffs in the case. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Exxon Mobil Corporation—second to Enron Corporation—was one of the largest campaign donors overall in the 2000 election, with Republicans receiving 89 percent of its contributions.
The suit is being brought under the US Alien Tort Claims Act of 1792, which has been used since the 1970s by survivors of torture to sue their torturers. None of the suits brought against corporations has yet been brought to trial.
Media Resources: Wall Street Journal 08/07/02; New York Times 08/08/02; International Labor Rights Fund 7/15/02, 8/8/02; The Nation 07/15/02
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .