April 05, 2006

The Chicago Asylum Office recently granted political asylum to a Jenner & Block pro bono client whose family had been falsely accused of treason and routinely tortured by the government of Togo.

In 1996, the Togolese government, without any evidence, arrested a brother of the Firm’s client for treason and subjected him to brutal interrogation and torture.  He was eventually able to escape the prison and flee to Ghana, where the Togolese government  presumed he went to train as a rebel soldier.  From that point forward, the government targeted the client’s family as perpetrators of treason and routinely subjected various family members to arrest, incarceration and torture.

The abuse culminated in a military assault against the client’s family home, during which both of his parents were arrested and tortured.  Three of his brothers and sisters went missing.  At this time, the client was fortunate to be staying in the United States.

At the time, the Firm's client was recovering from a brain tumor which impaired his memory and ability to communicate.  Associates Reena R. Gokani and Shahid U. Haque nonetheless successfully argued that he had a “well-founded fear of persecution” based upon the history of torture inflicted against his family and the expectation that he would endure the same persecution should he be required to return to Togo.  The Immigration Officer, persuaded by their presentation of the case, granted the client's request for political asylum.

Jenner & Block Partner Barry Sullivan served as supervising attorney on this pro bono matter.