WASHINGTON — The United States Senate has passed legislation that would allow families of September 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia’s Government for damages, setting up a potential showdown with the White House which has threatened a veto.
The Saudis, who deny responsibility for the 2001 attacks, strongly object to the bill. They had said they might sell up to $750 billion in US securities and other American assets in retaliation if it became law.
The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) passed the Senate by unanimous voice vote. It must next be taken up by the House of Representatives, where the Judiciary Committee intends to hold a hearing on the measure in the near future, a committee aide said.
If it became law, JASTA would remove the sovereign immunity, preventing lawsuits against governments, for countries found to be involved in terrorist attacks on US soil.
It would allow survivors of the attacks, and relatives of those killed in the attacks, to seek damages from other countries.
In this case, it would allow lawsuits to proceed in federal court in New York as lawyers try to prove that the Saudis were involved in the attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir has said his country’s objection to the bill is based on principles of international relations.
“What (Congress is) doing is stripping the principle of sovereign immunities which would turn the world for international law into the law of the jungle,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
James Kreindler, a prominent trial lawyer who represents 9/11 families and won large payouts for the victims of the 1988 bombing of Pan American Airways Flight 103 over Scotland, said he expected the bill to pass the House and become law.
“It would be crazy for (President Barack) Obama to veto bipartisan legislation (which would) open courts to victims of the worst terrorist attack in US history,” Mr Kreindler said.
Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat and a JASTA co-sponsor, said the bill is overdue.
“Today the Senate has spoken loudly and unanimously that the families of victims of terrorist attacks should be able to hold the perpetrators — even if it’s a country, a nation — accountable,” Senator Schumer told a news conference.
Bir Hospital to get new surgery building
KATHMANDU— The oldest hospital of the country, Bir Hospital, is in the process of getting a separate well-equipped building for surgery within the next two years.
The proposed nine-storey building will have 15 operation theaters.
The new building will have a post-operative ward; a 40-bed surgical ward; an Intensive Care Union (ICU); and a library as well. The new infrastructure will also have the facilities friendly to the senior citizens, disabled and the visitors, the National Academy of Medical Sciences (NAMS) says.
It is estimated to cost Rs 3.85 billion to complete the construction in two years. It is being constructed in an area of the old building of the NAMS nursing college which collapsed in the 2015 April earthquake. The building construction was inaugurated by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on March 9.
The hospital that had started its services in 1947 BS with 15 beds has now 450 beds. The NAMS operates Nursing, MBBS, MD classes and training as well.
The post of NAMS Chancellor has been lying vacant since the past five months. As shared by an employee, the delay in appointing the chancellor has caused inconveniences to the operation of hospital regular activities.
Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population, Dr Sushilnath Pyakurel, said the recommendations have been already made before the minister to make appointments in the posts lying vacant in various health academies.
Similarly, infrastructures are being developed to upgrade the hospital by adding extra services including a helipad service for the first time from the government level.
The hospital has started its service from its branch at Duwakot of Bhaktapur from October 10 as part of its service expansion in line with the policy of the Ministry of Health.
The Duwakot branch provides OPD and surgery at present. OPD service starts from 9 am to 5 pm. The NAMS has permitted the construction of well equipped physical infrastructure for the hospital branch to provide international standard service, said the Hospital’s Director Prof Dr Bhupendra Basnet.
The Ministry of Health has allocated Rs 300 million as per the master plan of the NAMS and provided approximately 570 ropanis of land for the construction of physical infrastructures for the hospital branch.
“Necessary human resources including a medical officer, nurses and assistant health workers have been managed for the hospital branch. Medical equipment and other workforce that includes specialist doctors will also be managed as per need,” said Basnet.Follow @gorkhapost