Default Judgment in Case Against Assad Regime for Extrajudicial Killing of Reporter Marie Colvin


Shearman & Sterling and the Center for Justice & Accountability (CJA) filed a motion with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia requesting entry of default judgment against the Syrian Arab Republic for its targeted killing of journalist Marie Colvin.

The motion is supported by extensive evidence that the Assad Regime not only hunted down and deliberately assassinated Marie, but did so as part of a coordinated policy to target journalists in order to hide its atrocities from the world. That evidence was unsealed on April 9, and includes declarations of Syrian government defectors and other eyewitnesses to relevant events, Syrian government documents smuggled out of the country by dissidents, and expert reports by the last U.S. Ambassador to Syria, the U.S. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and an analyst for the Commission for International Justice and Accountability.

Marie Colvin, an American citizen and renowned war correspondent for The Sunday Times of London, was killed by artillery fire on February 22, 2012 in the besieged city of Homs, Syria, shortly after reporting that the Assad Regime was shelling “cold, starving civilians,” rather than terrorists, as it claimed. The bombing also killed French photographer Rémi Ochlik and injured British photographer Paul Conroy, Syrian translator Wael al-Omar, and French journalist Edith Bouvier, all of whom were staying at a media center location that had been set up by citizen journalists reporting from Homs.

Shearman & Sterling and CJA filed the Colvin et al. lawsuit in July of 2016 on behalf of Marie Colvin’s sister, Cathleen Colvin – an alumna of the firm and the General Counsel of Pall Corporation – and Cathleen’s three children. The plaintiffs assert claims under a provision of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act that establishes a federal cause of action for the extrajudicial killing of U.S. citizens against states that, like Syria, have been designated by the United States as state sponsors of terrorism. Syria has failed to appear in the suit.

The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) is a US non-profit international human rights organization based in San Francisco, California.

Shearman & Sterling advised with a team including Henry Weisburg (Picture), Mark D. Lanpher, Daniel Lewis, Sasha Filippova, Daniel Purisch, Erica Embree, Daria Anichkova and Tammam Kaissi.

Involved fees earner: Henry Weisburg – Shearman & Sterling; Mark Lanpher – Shearman & Sterling; Daniel Lewis – Shearman & Sterling; Erica Embree – Shearman & Sterling; Sasha Filippova – Shearman & Sterling; Daniel Purisch – Shearman & Sterling; Daria Anichkova – Shearman & Sterling; Tammam Kaissi – Shearman & Sterling;

Law Firms: Shearman & Sterling;

Clients: Center for Justice & Accountability;

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Author: Ambrogio Visconti