Newsroom: Press Releases
Lautenberg, Specter Introduce Bill To Give Justice To Victims of State-Sponsored Terrorism
Measure Would Empower Victims To Pursue Assets of Countries Like Iran That Sponsor TerrorPress Office (202) 224-3224
Thursday, August 02, 2007
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) today led a strong bipartisan coalition of Senators introducing legislation to give victims of state-sponsored terrorism their day in court.
“Far too many Americans have suffered at the hands of terrorism. My bill would allow victims of state-sponsored terror to have their day in court. It would let victims sue countries and hold those countries accountable,” said Sen. Lautenberg.
“I am pleased to cosponsor this legislation which gives the victims of terrorism and their families the ability to seek legal redress,” said Sen. Specter. “This bill reaffirms that the United States will not tolerate state sponsored terrorism.”
The bill would allow victims of state-sponsored terror to sue countries that promote terrorism. The measure would allow victims to seize hidden commercial assets for compensation.
“This legislation is important to the families of the victims of the 1983 Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut, Lebanon. It will hold the government of Iran accountable for the murder of 241 men in this bombing, one of whom was my brother, Captain Vincent L. Smith (United States Marine Corps). The injustice of this over the long years has been a heavy burden -- the Iranian government has literally been getting away with murder for almost 24 years. The passage of this bill will bring justice by holding the criminals accountable for their crime. And I believe it will mitigate future terrorism. This bill is a huge statement of support for victims of terrorism, and a powerful way to fight terrorism without the use of military force,” said Lynn Derbyshire, who serves as the national spokesperson for The Beirut Families.
The legislation -- the Justice for Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Act -- is based on a 1996 amendment to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act known as the Flatow Amendment, which enabled American victims of terrorism to go after state sponsors of terrorism in court. The billwould:
The measure has an impressive bipartisan list of original cosponsors, including Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Trent Lott (R-MS), Joseph Biden (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX ), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Robert Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ted Stevens (R-AK).