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Closing Arguments in Landmark Jama Human Rights Trial Set for Nov. 7

Rutgers Law School clinic asking for damages for political asylum seekers abused in Elizabeth prison run by private corporation

November 06, 2007 – 
Penny Venetis, clinical professor of law at Rutgers School of Law–Newark and co-director of the school’s Constitutional Litigation Clinic, will present her closing argument on Wednesday, November 7, in Jama et al. v. Esmor Correctional Services, Inc., the first case to apply international human rights standards to a U.S. corporation for events that happened on U.S. soil. Arguments will be heard beginning at 9 am by Senior District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, in Newark’s Martin Luther King Building & U.S. Courthouse.

The Jama plaintiffs are political asylum seekers from Africa and Asia who were subjected to horrific physical and psychological abuse in 1994 and 1995 in a privately-run Elizabeth, NJ detention center where they were held while their asylum claims were processed. They have been represented since 1996 by faculty and students in the Constitutional Litigation Clinic. In a landmark 2004 decision in the case, Judge Debevoise ruled that abuses committed in the U.S. against political asylum seekers detained by the U.S. and private contractors can be prosecuted as human rights violations under customary international law using the 1789 statute, the Alien Tort Claims Act.