In January of 2007, Mr. A, a volunteer civics teacher in Chad, was illegally arrested by Chadian security forces. Over a seven-day period, he underwent three separate interrogation sessions where he was repeatedly kicked, burned, whipped with various weapons, and beaten to the point of unconsciousness. During his detention, he was kept for several days in solitary confinement in a tiny underground cell without any food, water, bathroom facilities or medical attention.

He escaped from prison on January 15, 2007, and was in hiding until he was able to secure a visa and flee the country for the United States.

As pro bono counsel, Melissa Francis, under the supervision of Philip Lacovara, represented Mr. A. in his asylum proceedings before an immigration judge. In a two-day hearing held in May, they were able to establish that Mr. A was persecuted by the Chadian government because he was a member of both an opposition political party and a prominent human rights organization that is critical of the regime of Chadian President Deby. They also established that Mr. A was persecuted because of his relation to individuals suspected by President Deby’s regime of cooperating with rebel forces in Chad.

The hearing ultimately resulted not only in a grant of asylum for Mr. A, but also a waiver of any appeal by the counsel for the Department of Homeland Security.