In her application, Vumi alleged that she had been mistreated by members of the DRC military, who considered her ex-husband a suspect in the 2001 assassination of the DRC president. More specifically, Vumi testified that she had been detained, beaten, raped, and interrogated ceaselessly regarding her ex-husband’s whereabouts, all at the hands of the DRC military. As a result of her testimony, the IJ found that Vumi had unquestionably suffered persecution, and was likely to suffer such mistreatment in the future, thus entitling her to relief pursuant to her CAT claim.
However, the IJ determined that Vumi failed to show that her persecution was due to a protected ground, i.e. membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. It was on this basis that the IJ, and subsequently the BIA, rejected Vumi’s application for asylum and withholding of removal.
The Court of Appeals noted that persecution on account of membership in a particular social group was defined as persecution directed toward an individual belonging to a group whose members all share a common, immutable characteristic. First, the Court found that the IJ and BIA had failed to consider Vumi’s membership in her ex-husband’s family, which might support a finding of persecution under this ground. Therefore, the Court reasoned, it was necessary to remand Vumi’s case for the BIA to consider such a claim.
Next, the Court determined that the BIA and IJ failed to examine the political context in which Vumi’s treatment by the DRC military occurred. Because the political atmosphere in the DRC clearly did not allow for peaceful change, the Court found that the BIA and IJ should have considered the potentially political nature of Vumi’s abuse, which went well beyond the scope of normal investigations into a political assassination. Thus, the Court held that it was also necessary to remand this case so that the BIA could decide whether Vumi’s persecution was the result of her political opinion.
For these reasons, the Court granted Vumi’s petition for review, vacated the BIA’s opinion, and remanded the case for the BIA to properly determine whether a protected ground was implicated in Vumi’s case, thus entitling her to asylum and withholding of removal.
Judge(s): Hon. Guido Calabresi, Hon. Richard C. Wesley, Circuit Judges, Hon. William K. Sessions III, District Judge
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
|Amicus Lawyer(s)||Amicus Law Firm(s)|
|Deborah Anker||Harvard Law School|
|Petitioner Lawyer(s)||Petitioner Law Firm(s)|
|Jon Bauer||University of Connecticut, School of Law, Legal Clinic|
|Respondent Lawyer(s)||Respondent Law Firm(s)|
|Nora Dannehy||U.S. Attorney General's Office|
|Alberto Gonzale||U.S. Department of Justice|
|Edward J. McElroy||U.S. Department of Justice|