A proposed law that allows Americans to take legal action against the Chinese regime over COVID-19 in U.S. federal courts is making its way through Congress.
Sovereign immunity is the legal doctrine that insulates countries from being sued in other countries’ courts. In the United States, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act limits lawsuits against foreign nations for civil liability unless a case comes under the law’s limited list of exceptions.
The senators say the bill aims to lift this barrier for Americans to sue the CCP, by stripping China of its sovereign immunity for its pattern of withholding information that resulted in the spread of the pandemic worldwide. They say the bill is modeled after the 2016 Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) that allowed lawsuits against officials in Saudi Arabia for victims of terrorism, particularly 9/11 victims.
The bill also gives federal courts the authority to hear the claims and authorizes federal courts to freeze Chinese assets when appropriate.
Graham said he was pleased by the passage of the bill in the committee.
“To those who have suffered from the coronavirus, your suffering is directly related to the outrageous behavior of the Communist Party of China. China was negligent in dealing with the origins of the virus and deceiving the world about the nature of the virus. Americans deserve their day in court."
The Chinese regime was also not responsive to international requests to learn about the virus and the outbreak. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar previously said the United States had been trying to send a group of experts to understand the outbreak’s transmission and severity since January 6. However, the United States’s repeated requests were left unanswered for a month.
In the past few months, a number of class-action lawsuits have been filed by individuals or businesses in U.S. federal courts against the regime over the pandemic, including ones in Florida, Texas, Nevada, and California. Attorneys general of Missouri and Mississippi have also filed separate lawsuits against the Chinese regime on behalf of their states.