Friday, March 1, 2002
Peruvian Political Conditions Not Improved Enough to Deny Asylum—Court
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Evidence that political conditions in Peru have improved since a Maoist insurgency held sway over much of the country in the 1980s and 1990s was not sufficient to justify an INS ruling that a former local official who opposed the guerillas is ineligible for asylum, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday.
The panel ordered that Dagoberto Salazar-Paucar not be deported, and remanded his case to the Board of Immigration Appeals for a grant of asylum. Judge Richard Paez, writing for the court, said the BIA erred in relying on a 1993 Amnesty International report which, the judge explained, included comments by then-President Alberto Fujimori that a campaign against the guerillas was succeeding but failed to show that Fujimori’s confidence was justified.
The Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, began an armed conflict with the Peruvian government in 1980. The movement has been responsible for the killing of more than 11,000 civilians, including the heads of various institutions that have opposed it, Amnesty International has reported.
In seeking asylum, Salazar said he was one of four members of the municipal government in his hometown of San Pedro de Cajas, a post to which he was elected in 1989. His superior, the mayor, was killed by the Shining Path in 1990, he testified, and he himself received death threats before and after.
Of the three elected officials besides himself, he said, one was murdered when he was out of town. He then left for Lima, where he lived for 18 months, but fled the country two weeks after learning that two other elected officials from San Pedro who also left town were murdered elsewhere in the country, he said.
Salazar entered without inspection at Brownsville, Texas. He applied for asylum after the INS initiated deportation proceedings, which occurred just three days after his entry.
The immigration judge rejected his application. Six years later, the BIA issued a decision finding that Salazar’s testimony was credible and that a political opinion had been imputed to him by the Shining Path, but concluding that the improvement of conditions in Peru and the fact that he had lived “unmolested” in Lima for a period of time established that he lacked a well-founded fear of future persecution.
But Paez said the BIA was wrong. The evidence, he said, established that Salazar had been persecuted in the past and did not rebut the presumption that a person who has been persecuted in the past has a well-founded fear of persecution in the future.
The case is Salazar-Paucar v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 99-71306.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company