Asylum Won for African Academic
8 October 2008
On October 8, 2008, the US Citizen and Immigration Service granted asylum to Mayer Brown pro bono client, Mr. S. A native of Africa, Mr. S was a leading academic in the field of communications, specializing in public relations, journalism and ethics in journalism.
Educated abroad, Mr. S returned to his country to help build up its meager communications infrastructure. He encountered a university setting dominated by his country's ruling political party where academic freedom was severely repressed and most professors practiced self-censorship.
Mr. S refused to stop teaching his students about the value of democracy and, in particular, the importance of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. He also refused to compromise his core beliefs and join the ruling party, as he was repeatedly pressed to do. As a result, Mr. S suffered escalating persecution by the government. It began with unfair denials of a promotion and bonuses, as well as the refusal to allow professional travel and research funding; it culminated in four separate instances of imprisonment, interrogation and torture.
Alicia K. Kinsey, an associate in the Washington office, represented Mr. S in his affirmative application for asylum before the US Citizen and Immigration Service. Alicia became involved in the matter in March 2008 through the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. She was supervised by partner Alex C. Lakatos.
The case was resolved at the affirmative asylum level, as Alicia and Alex convinced the government that Mr. S had suffered past persecution on account of his political opinion, and would likely again be imprisoned and tortured, and even killed, if he were forced to return to his country.
Always the academic, Mr. S's first act upon receiving asylum was to obtain a library card from the Library of Congress.