Washington International Law Journal


Riza De Jesus


The Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) was enacted in 1992 to establish an unambiguous basis for a cause of action in U.S. courts for torture committed in foreign nations. Because the statutory language and legislative history did not address the issue of retroactivity, courts are left with the task of determining whether the TVPA applies to pending cases and pre-enactment conduct. As demonstrated in In re Estate of Marcos Human Rights Litigation, a retroactive application of the statute does not result in manifest injustice. The TVPA does not alter substantive rights and liabilities and merely clarifies existing law prohibiting torture. In conformance with principles of equity and rules of statutory construction, the TVPA should apply retroactively to claims based on conduct that occurred prior to its enactment.

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