Association of Humanitarian Lawyers


Shibayama v. United States
Petition No. P-434-03

The United States program for seizing Latin Americans of Japanese ancestry (more than 2200 Latin American were seized and, transported to US operated camps while more than 800 them were sent to Japan in exchange for US citizens) is identified as a war crime and crime against humanity by the Nuremberg Charter. The Shibayama brothers were denied compensation under the Civil Liberties Act under which the United States paid $20,000 reparations to United States citizens of Japanese ancestry held in camps during World War II on the basis that the program was only for United States citizens or resident permanent aliens in the United States, not for the Latin Americans.

The District Court refused to consider the human rights and humanitarian law portions of the claim and sent it to the Court of Federal Claims, which was given exclusive jurisdiction over Civil Liberties Act claims. The Court of Federal Claims ruled against the Shibayamas, and as there was no other court available in the United States, the Shibayamas filed at the Organization of American States, with the Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project as co-Petitioners. The United States was grossly late in responding to the OAS. After the US replied, AHL attorneys filed a response. The case is pending a decision.