Tuesday, April 14, 2020
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) announced the Justice for Victims of COVID-19 Act to hold the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) responsible for causing the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The bill would strip China of its sovereign immunity and create a private right of action against the CCP for reckless actions like silencing whistleblowers and withholding critical information about COVID-19. The plan would also create the Justice for Victims of COVID-19 Task Force at the State Department to lead an international investigation into Beijing’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak and to secure compensation from the Chinese government.
“There is overwhelming evidence that the Chinese Communist Party’s lies, deceit, and incompetence caused COVID-19 to transform from a local disease outbreak into a global pandemic. We need an international investigation to learn the full extent of the damage the CCP has inflicted on the world and then we need to empower Americans and other victims around the world to recover damages. The CCP unleashed this pandemic. They must be held accountable to their victims.”Senator Josh Hawley
Senator Hawley was the first member of Congress to call for an investigation into the CCP’s cover-up of the COVID-19 pandemic and recently joined Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in introducing the Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act to authorize sanctions on foreign officials who suppress or distort information about international public health crises.
The Justice for Victims of COVID-19 Act will:
- Make the Chinese government liable for civil claims in U.S. courts by:
- Creating a private right of action against the Chinese government for any reckless action it took that caused the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, such as its decisions to withhold information and to gag doctors;
- Stripping the Chinese government of sovereign immunity for these actions so that plaintiffs can sue; and
- Allowing courts to freeze Chinese government assets so victims can enforce their claims;
- Establish the Justice for Victims of COVID-19 Task Force at the State Department to:
- Lead an international investigation to determine how Beijing’s decisions to distort and conceal information about the COVID-19 outbreak—including by using the World Health Organization to parrot its lies—caused this global pandemic; and
- Lead an international effort to secure compensation from the Chinese government, including by preparing options to compel Beijing to provide restitution, if at first it resists international demands for the same.