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Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain


    Citation. Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 542 U.S. 692, 124 S. Ct. 2739, 159 L. Ed. 2d 718, 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4763, 72 U.S.L.W. 4660, 158 Oil & Gas Rep. 601, 2004 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 515 (U.S. June 29, 2004)

    Brief Fact Summary. Alvarez-Machain (P) argued he was detained against his will by bounty hunter and brought to the United States.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The abduction of a foreign national does not amount to an “arbitrary arrest” within the meaning of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

    Facts. Alvarez-Machain (P) argued he was detained against his will by bounty hunter and brought to the United States.

    Issue. Does the abduction of a foreign national amount to an “arbitrary arrest” within the meaning of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights?

    Held. No. The abduction of a foreign national does not amount to an “arbitrary arrest” within the meaning of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Obligations as a matter of international law is not imposed by the Declaration and while the Covenant binds the United States as a matter of international law, the U.S. ratified it on the express understanding that it was not self-executing, and therefore did not itself create obligations that were enforceable in the federal courts.

    Discussion. This case shows the concept of self-determination under international law. No document can give rise to obligations as a matter of international law that does not expressly purport to do so, and there no state which can be bound to any international pact without its consent.


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