Archives for posts with tag: politics

This is the case of PASSI v. MUKASEY about immigrant from Republic of Congo seeking asylum in the U.S. from fear of persecution related to Ntumi’s Ninja rebels. Recall previous NinjaLaw post about these ninja rebels: “Asylum sought because of Ninja killers in the Congo“.

The Passi case appears twice at the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. First, an unpublished Summary Order from January 29, 2008 before Judges Miner, Cabranes and Sotomayor (yes, that Sotomayor!):

SYLVESTRE PASSI, Petitioner,
v.
MICHAEL B. MUKASEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL, Respondent.
(Pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 43(c)(2), Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey is automatically substituted for former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales as the respondent in this case.)

07-2102-ag NAC
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
261 Fed. Appx. 332; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 1920

Both the IJ and the BIA erred by relying exclusively on the United States Department of State country reports in finding that Passi no longer had a reasonable basis to fear persecution if he returned to the Republic of Congo. This Court has instructed immigration courts “not to place excessive reliance” on the Department of State country reports. See Tambadou, 446 F.3d at 302 (quoting Tian-Yong Chang v. INS, 359 F.3d 121, 130 (2d Cir. 2004)). We have also instructed immigration courts to consider evidence that is contrary to country reports and to consider the “particular circumstances of the applicant’s case demonstrated by testimony and other evidence.” Id. Both the IJ and the BIA erred in failing to consider contrary evidence and in failing to consider Passi’s particular circumstances.

These circumstances include the fact that President Sassou-Nguesso — whose militia was responsible for the severe beating of Passi and the murder of Passi’s father, a police officer under the former President Lissouba ? remains in power. Cf. In re O-Z-, 22 I. & N. Dec. 23, 26-27 (B.I.A. 1998). Passi also correctly notes that the 2004 country report, cited by the BIA, states that “[u]ncontrolled and unidentified armed elements remained active in the Pool region [of the Republic of Congo], despite an ongoing demobilization and reintegration program following the March 2003 Peace Accord between the Government and Pasteur Ntumi’s Ninja rebels.” In addition, the reports note that some members of the security forces committed human rights abuses, and although there were some “significant improvements” in the Congolese government’s human rights record, “serious problems remained,” including that security forces were reportedly responsible for “beatings, physical abuse of detainees, rapes,” and “arbitrary arrest and detention.” Moreover, news articles submitted by Passi describe the deaths of civilians by a resurgent militia in a suburb of Brazzaville, the displacement of 50,000 people in the capital, and clashes between government troops and rebel fighters in the Pool region surrounding Brazzaville, as well as within the capital itself. The agency was required to conduct a more “individualized analysis” of how any changes in Congo would affect Passi’s personal circumstances. See Tambadou, 446 F.3d at 303.

Then a published supplemental opinion, July 23, 2008, before Judges Jacobs, Kearse and Katzman: ,


SYLVESTRE PASSI, Petitioner,
v.
MICHAEL B. MUKASEY, Attorney General, Respondent.
(Pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 43(c)(2), Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey is automatically substituted for former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales as the respondent in this case.)

Docket No. 07-2102-ag
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
535 F.3d 98; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 15481

Opinion by Judge Katzmann:

notably, the 2004 country report confirms that Sassou-Nguesso–whose Cobra militia beat Passi into unconsciousness and killed his father–is now firmly in control of Congo and his “[g]overnment’s human rights record remains poor.” The report noted that although there were “some” improvements, “serious problems remained,” particularly in Passi’s home region where there are continued clashes between the mainly Lari “Ninja” rebels and Sassou-Nguesso’s government forces. The 2004 country report stated that “[u]ncontrolled and unidentified armed elements remain active in the Pool region, despite an ongoing demobilization and reintegration program following the March 2003 Peace Accord between the Government and [the] Ninja rebels,” and noted continued violence and harassment by either “uncontrolled government security forces or former Ninjas.” In December 2003, uncontrolled Republican Guard government forces attacked Ninja elements in Brazzaville resulting in restrictions on civilian movement, and there was “renewed harassment and intimidation by uncontrolled and unidentified armed elements.” While there were fewer reports that government forces killed civilians in the Pool region than in previous years, the 2004 country report stated that members of the security forces “committed human rights abuses” and were “responsible for beatings, physical abuse of detainees, rapes, arbitrary arrest and detention, looting, solicitation of bribes and theft.” The report also noted that “[d]iscrimination on the basis of ethnic regions remained a problem.” The news articles Passi submitted describe the deaths of civilians at the hands of either the military or a resurgent militia in a suburb of his home city Brazzaville, the displacement of 50,000 people in Brazzaville, and clashes between government troops and rebel fighters in Brazzaville and in the Pool region surrounding the city.

Therefore the case was remanded for further proceedings:

The BIA improperly inferred that Passi no longer has a well founded fear of persecution because its inference was based entirely on a country report that details general improvements, while indicating that Passi’s hometown (which the agency was required by regulation to presume is unreasonable for him to leave) is still troubled by ethnic and political conflict. We remand for the agency to conduct an individualized analysis of whether the changes in conditions in Congo were so fundamental that they are sufficient to rebut the presumption that Passi’s fear of persecution is well founded.

This 2007 asylum seeker claimed that he would be in danger if returned to the Congo, despite State Department claims that the situation had changed. In this case, the Court vacated the ruling of the Board of Immigration Appeals and remanded for further proceedings. The Ninja were a militia in the Congo; according to Wikipedia they disbanded in 2008.


Blaise MAPOUYA, Petitioner,
v.
Alberto R. GONZALES, Respondent.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.
487 F.3d 396
No. 06-3042.

Decided and Filed: May 18, 2007.

The majority opinion written by Judge Dan Polster (and joined by Judge Martin) explains:

Blaise Mapouya is an ethnic Mbochi born in Brazzaville, Congo on January 4, 1970. He fled Congo on March 20, 1999, and eventually entered the United States illegally through New York City on August 3, 2002, using a borrowed passport. Mapouya made his way to Memphis, Tennessee, and in October 2002, he filed an application for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under The Convention. On the application, Mapouya claimed asylum based on political opinion. After recounting that Mapouya was subjected to violence and torture in the days of the 1997-98 Congolese civil war, the application included Mapouya’s assertion that he would not return to Congo as long as Denis Sassou-Nguesso is president, “because I do not want to put my life in danger.”

and

A recounting of recent events is necessary to better understand the details of Mapouya’s testimony. In the second half of 1997, violence and civil war returned to the Republic of Congo (hereinafter “Congo”) when Sassou-Nguesso, the country’s former military strongman, ousted the country’s first democratically elected president, Pascal Lissouba. Sassou-Nguesso, who had ruled Congo previously from 1979-91 after a coup, once again seized power militarily in October 1997 after several months of vicious fighting between government and militia troops loyal to Lissouba on one side, and Sassou-Nguesso’s forces on the other. Angolan troops also crossed the southern border and intervened at different places on Sassou-Nguesso’s behalf, including in the capital city of Brazzaville, which is located in the southeast region of the country.

Strong ethnic overtones are present in Congolese politics, and the 1997-98 civil war was no different. Generally, the conflict can be characterized as pitting northerners, who supported Sassou-Nguesso and his Congolese Labour Party (“PCT”), against southerners, who supported former President Lissouba and former Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas. The Mbochi, which are one of the larger Bantu ethnic groups, are located primarily in the northern regions of Congo. Accordingly, the Mbochi are traditionally strong Sassou-Nguesso supporters, especially because Sassou-Nguesso is Mbochi as well. Conversely, supporters of Lissouba and his Pan-African Union for Social Development party (the translated acronym for which is “UPADS”) are primarily southern Congolese tribes, which are mainly Lari ethnic groups. Any divergence from these ethnic-political affiliations, while not unheard of, is rare. Mapouya appears to be one of these few exceptions.

Concluding “that the IJ made an erroneous adverse credibility finding on the asylum question, and that this negative credibility determination permeates and infuses the IJ’s subsequent findings and conclusions”. The Court remands and “urge[s] that, on remand, a different immigration judge be assigned to any further proceedings.”

Dissent by Judge Clay argues to uphold the denial of asylum based on the Board of Immigration Appeals finding “that changed country conditions rebutted Petitioner’s presumption of a well-founded fear of persecution.” Judge Clay notes:

Petitioner contends that the Republic of Congo still has a poor human rights record, that security forces killed civilians in the southern “Pool” region, [and] that the government committed various human rights abuses in the same region

And citing a 2003 State Department report in multiple footnotes, Judge Clay explains:

FN5 – “The Government’s human rights record remained poor.”

FN6 – “There were no reports of political killings; however, there were press reports that government forces killed civilians in the Pool region prior to the March signing of the Peace Accord between the Government and anti-government Ninja rebels.”

FN7- “Until March, there were reports that undisciplined government forces committed abuses such as summary executions, rape, looting, and other violent acts, primarily in the Pool region.”

FN8- “The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention; however, security forces frequently committed such acts.”