US Senator Calls for Stripping ‘Sovereign Immunity’ for Chinese Regime

Would allow for lawsuits against the CCP's 'reckless actions' in COVID-19 crisis
April 15, 2020 Updated: April 16, 2020

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is continuing his efforts on Capitol Hill to hold China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) accountable for its actions on the world stage, including its censorship of its own citizens that has contributed to the global pandemic of the CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.

The senator announced a bill for a “Justice for Victims of COVID-19 Act” on Monday, calling for an investigation into the CCP’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan.

The legislation would create a Justice for Victims of COVID-19 Task Force at the State Department, with the goal of securing restitution from the Chinese government.

It would allow lawsuits against the CCP by stripping the totalitarian regime’s claim to sovereign immunity. Lawsuits could then be filed against the CCP “for reckless actions,” such as withholding crucial information and silencing whistleblowers.

Several lawsuits have already been launched in U.S. courts suing the Chinese regime for its role in causing the pandemic. Florida-based law firm Berman Law Group has filed two class actions against the regime. The first lawsuit filed in March was on behalf of pandemic victims, and another was filed in April on behalf of health care workers suing the CCP for hoarding personal protective equipment.

Those lawsuits claim that they are not barred by sovereign immunity, but Jeremy Alters, chief firm strategist and non-attorney spokesman for Berman Law Group, said in a statement that Hawley’s legislation, if passed, would help in removing hurdles to taking legal action against the CCP.

“I think it’s fantastic. This proposed legislation by Senator Hawley shows that he is looking forward to a remedy for this terrible situation that has happened. It will make the hurdles that we have in our lawsuit much easier to clear. And it will allow the people of the United States to recover at least some compensation for what the CCP has done,” he said.

“There’s no doubt CCP and government of China should have to pay. After all, they’re a world superpower. Every day that goes by more and more reports validate our two class action lawsuits as they provide clear evidence that the Communist Government of China has the ability to stop and contain this, in large part, of not altogether — and inform the world well before it became a pandemic. They failed to do it and failed to tell us about it and now we are suffering the consequences,” Alters continued.

“There is overwhelming evidence that the Chinese Communist Party’s lies, deceit, and incompetence caused COVID-19 to transform from a local disease outbreak into a global pandemic,” Hawley said in a statement.

“We need an international investigation to learn the full extent of the damage the CCP has inflicted on the world and then we need to empower Americans and other victims around the world to recover damages.

“The CCP unleashed this pandemic. They must be held accountable to their victims.”

If the bill becomes law, it will also allow U.S. courts to freeze the CCP’s assets in the United States on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Vinh Vuong, partner at Washington-based PR firm Lucas Compton that has partnered with Berman Law Group for the class actions, indicated that the law firm has received inquiries from potential plaintiffs in over 35 countries including Russia and China.

“We also hope this becomes a global coalition of all nations affected to unite vs the Communist Chinese Party for their continued unethical behaviors and actions,” Vuong said in a statement.

Senator Hawley currently serves on the Senate Committees on the Judiciary; Armed Services; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and the Special Committee on Aging.