Congolese Woman Gets New Chance at Asylum
ROBERT SIEGEL, host
A Congolese woman who lost her bid for political asylum in the U.S. will get a rare second chance at the request of the government. Government lawyers have agreed to ask that her case be reopened in the interest of justice.
NPR's Libby Lewis reports.
LIBBY LEWIS reporting:
Monique Moembay is a citizen of a democratic republic of Congo. On January 16, 2001, she was working as a secretary in the presidential palace when she heard gunshots. A presidential bodyguard had just assassinated President Laurent Kabila. Soldiers swept up about a hundred government employees for interrogation, including Moembay. She and the other women were separated from the men and herded into a prison. Jane Fleming is her lawyer.
Ms. JANE FLEMING (Attorney): She was detained and she was imprisoned for six weeks. She was raped daily by five or six prison guards. At the time that she was in prison, she was pregnant - one month pregnant. She suffered a miscarriage during one of the gang rapes.
LEWIS: She escaped and fled to the U.S., where she asked for political asylum. An immigration judge turned her down. Judge Bertos Inigo(ph) wrote that the brutality Moembay described was simply not comprehendible. This spring, a federal appeals court panel wrote that by the judge's logic, Jews fleeing Nazi Germany would be describing brutality that was incomprehensible.
But the appeals court upheld the judge's decision to have Moembay sent back to Congo. It did so acknowledging she faced the real possibility of being tortured. Moembay's lawyer convinced the U.S. Government that that would not be just. Together they filed a motion asking that she receive a new asylum hearing. The Justice Department and the office that oversees immigration judges said they could not comment.
Libby Lewis, NPR News.
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