Arab News – A leading American newspaper has expressed regret over the recent passage in the US Congress of the so-called Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).
“A basic precept of international law is that sovereign nations, or their government officials, should not be liable for official actions in the civil courts of other sovereign nations,” wrote The Washington Post in its editorial on Saturday.
“Sovereign immunity has stood the test of time because it makes practical sense. And it makes practical sense because the international deeds and misdeeds of governments are more equitably dealt with through state-to-state negotiations than by hauling one country’s officials in front of the judges and juries of another.”
The paper also criticized the speed with which the legislation was adopted.
The Post described the vote in the House and Senate as regrettable and having been taken under the pretext that it is a “noble cause” aimed at achieving justice for American victims of terrorist acts.
The newspaper also said the legislation, based on unfounded allegations that the Saudi government was involved in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, will allow victims of terrorist attacks in the US to prosecute states accused of sponsoring terrorist acts in order to obtain financial compensation in federal courts.
The newspaper said the bill is not symbolic, but potentially harmful.
As US President Barack Obama had explained, the law could, in turn, be easily used by other states against the US due to its use of drones in military operations, which may be defined by some as state-sponsored terrorism.
The paper quoted members of Congress as having repeatedly claimed that they have enough votes to override Obama’s veto, but Obama should overturn it anyway, as distorting long-standing principles of law and policy cannot be done without his consent.