Protecting Victims’ Identities in Doe v. Chiquita: Amicus filed before US Supreme Court*

Allie Lee** and Allie Brudney***

On July 8, 2021, Corporate Accountability Lab filed an amicus brief asking the US Supreme Court to grant certiorari in the case, Doe v. Chiquita Brands International. The case was brought by the family members of trade unionists, banana workers, political organizers, social activists, and others targeted and killed by the United Self-Defense Group of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, AUC), a right-wing paramilitary organization in Colombia funded in part by Chiquita, the US-based multinational banana company. The plaintiffs are suing Chiquita, alleging that Chiquita aided and abetted the AUC by financing them.

The question at issue before the Supreme Court is technical and narrow: whether a party that challenges a protective order that both parties stipulated to should bear the burden of showing good cause for the modification. What this actually means is that the petitioners (a sub-group of plaintiffs) are asking the Court to review the 11th Circuit’s decision to lift the protective order that allows them to proceed without their names, addresses, phone numbers, or employment information being revealed to the public. Thus far, although Chiquita has access to these petitioners’ identifying information, the protective order has prevented the information from becoming public. If the petitioners’ identities are to become public, many of them will be at high risk of physical harm, and may even be killed.

The amicus brief — signed by eleven international human rights organizations and one Colombian law firm — argue that the protective order should not be lifted, as revealing the petitioners’ identities would put their lives at risk. 

This blog post begins by providing background on the Doe v. Chiquita case. Next, it explains the procedural history behind the protective order and why the Supreme Court should review the Appellate Court’s decision, outlining the danger that human rights defenders in Colombia face. Finally, we discuss why it is important that communities impacted by corporate abuse are able to safely obtain remedies and hold offending corporations accountable. 

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