Asylum: Congolese Man Seeks Asylum Based on Political Opinion 

Charel* is a 27-year-old man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC is in the midst of elevated unrest related to presidential elections. Because of his political activity calling for an election, Charel and his family have been subject to unrelenting persecution by the military.  Charel has been imprisoned, horribly tortured, and threatened with death.  His family members have been beaten and gang-raped.  He needs pro bono help seeking asylum.


CAIR Coalition matters placed with a pro bono team are robustly mentored by a CAIR Coalition attorney. Our mentoring program includes an opening meeting to discuss the scope and process of the matter, provision of samples, guidance on the law, review of draft filings, assistance with client contact, and guidance on preparation for interviews and hearings. 




The DRC has been notorious for inhumane treatment of political opposition, and the persecutions and killings have recently escalated.  It is widely reported that security services have arrested hundreds of political opposition supporters and pro-democracy and human rights activists. Hundreds are held in illegal detention by the intelligence services for weeks or months, without charge or access to their families or lawyers.


Charel was a member of the LUCHA Association (Lutte pour le Changement) with which he marched in protest of the president’s refusal to hold an election before serving a third term.  Soldiers arrived at the march and began shooting and throwing gas; many were killed. Charel was among the many who were arrested and tortured all night. Afterwards, those who could still speak or move were questioned: their arms were tied behind their backs and they were asked for information on others who held these political beliefs. Removed to the Makala prison, they were told they would never see their family again and were not allowed any contact with the outside world.  Every month, they removed 2 to 4 people from the cell and executed them. Charel was able to escape the Makala prison during a widely reported prison break. 


Charel says that if he is deported, he would rather kill himself here than be killed in front of his family, because that is what he knows would happen.


Charel is eligible for asylum, withhold of removal, and Protection under the Convention against Torture.  All three of these defenses to deportation will be adjudicated in front of an immigration judge during a short trial. Charel speaks Lingala and some French, and is currently detained at Farmville Detention Center, an immigration detention center located approximately 3 hours away from Washington, DC in Farmville, Virginia. CAIR Coalition can assist in setting up confidential phone calls with the client. 


Please contact Michael Lukens at (202) 870-5962, or, if you are interested in taking this case. 


*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy.