ENGLISH-SPEAKING BISEXUAL MAN WHO FLED SIERRA LEONE CIVIL WAR FEARS TORTURE IF DEPORTED (Francis)

Francis* is a 25-year-old man from Sierra Leone. He fled his home country during the Civil War at age 6. Several of his family members were killed during the war, and he was separated from his mother. Francis came to the U.S. from a refugee camp in Guinea in 2005. Francis is afraid to return to his home country because his uncle is a politician and a member of a political party that is no longer in power. His uncle has been targeted for his political views, and the last time Francis returned home, he and his uncle were attacked while at a restaurant. Francis also fears discrimination or worse based on his bisexual identity, and current country conditions in Sierra Leone show that this fear is well-founded. Francis also has several diagnosed mental illnesses, which is likely to be another cause of discrimination in Sierra Leone, and he would not be able to access the necessary care if he returned. Francis has criminal charges that bar him from some forms of fear-based relief, but he is eligible for protection under the Convention Against Torture and needs a strong advocate to present this defense to deportation at trial.

All 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.

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Francis* is a 25-year-old man from Sierra Leone. He fled his country during the Civil War at age 6. Several of his family members were killed during the war and he was separated from his mother. Francis came to the U.S. from a refugee camp in Guinea in 2005. Francis is afraid to return to his home country because of his family’s political affiliation. His uncle is a politician and a member of a political party that is no longer in power. Even while the party was in power, the family was targeted and attacked. The current political party has targeted the uncle’s party, and the last time Francis returned home, Francis and his uncle were attacked by rebels with machetes in a restaurant. Both Francis and his uncle required hospitalization, and Francis has not returned home since.

Francis also recently disclosed that he is bisexual and has engaged in sexual activity with men, which is illegal and punishable by lengthy prison terms in Sierra Leone. He fears discrimination or worse if his bisexuality is discovered, and country conditions in Sierra Leone (including the U.S. State Department Human Rights Report on Sierra Leone) support his fear.

Additionally, Francis has several diagnosed mental illnesses for which he has been receiving treatment for several years. Individuals with mental illness often face discrimination in Sierra Leone, and Francis would not be able to access the necessary medical care if he was deported. Francis was found competent at a prior hearing, but a pro bono attorney may want to move for a new competency hearing.

Francis has several criminal charges which bar him from most forms of relief. However, Francis is still eligible for protection from deportation under the Convention Against Torture, as he fears torture or harm based on his family's political opinion and his mental illnesses. Francis is seeking a strong advocate to help seek protection under the Convention Against Torture.

  • Timeline: Francis has a scheduling hearing on June 1 before Judge Donoso-Stevens in Arlington. In response to COVID-19, the courts currently permit attorneys to attend all hearings telephonically.
  • Location: Detained in Caroline County, Virginia. Attorneys can schedule private calls with detained clients rather than conducting in-person legal visits.
  • Language: English

For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at jennifer@caircoalition.org or 202-866-9287.

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy