WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) today testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in support of her bill, the “Holocaust Rail Justice Act” (H.R. 1193), which would provide Holocaust survivors their day in court against the French rail company, SNCF, for its role in transporting thousands to their deaths during World War II. Today’s hearing comes at a time when SNCF is seeking U.S. high-speed rail contracts.
“SNCF’s role in the death and suffering of tens of thousands of innocent victims is an immeasurable failure of humanity,” Maloney testified. “SNCF’s refusal to fully acknowledge their culpability or take steps to make amends to their victims is a failure of morality. And SNCF’s ability to evade legal accountability in U.S. courts is a failure of justice. By finally forcing SNCF out of the shadows, and by precluding SNCF from hiding behind foreign sovereign immunity, the Holocaust Rail Justice Act will finally provide some measure of justice.”
“In the 66 years since the end of World War II, SNCF has never made restitution or reparations to its victims. Hundreds of known survivors and family members of those who have perished live in the United States today—although the number of living survivors is rapidly growing smaller—and litigation seeking to hold SNCF accountable for its actions during World War II went on for over ten years. SNCF has unfortunately succeeded in cloaking itself in the veil of foreign sovereign immunity and thus evaded jurisdiction in United States courts,” she said. “HR 1193 would simply preclude, in this one limited instance, the defense of foreign sovereign immunity from being raised. As the facts make clear, this is not the type of situation foreign sovereign immunity was intended to cover.”
“It is not just SNCF’s actions during the Holocaust that are so reprehensible, it is SNCF’s continued refusal today, in 2011, to accept full responsibility that is most alarming. We are no longer simply talking about the sins of SNCF’s fathers. Today’s leaders of SNCF have made a conscious decision to spend millions of dollars to fight the survivors of the Holocaust, rather than to provide the reparations relief these victims so much deserve,” Maloney added.
Full text of the House bill is viewable here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr1193ih/pdf/BILLS-112hr1193ih.pdf
The Senate version, S. 634
, is sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY).
The House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing info can be found here