Big Win in Pro Bono Political Asylum Case

News Brief

The firm recently achieved victory in a pro bono case, obtaining political asylum for Ebrima Janneh, the eldest child of a political activist in The Gambia.

After his father fled the country in January 2000, the 19-year-old Ebrima was routinely beaten and tortured by Gambian National Intelligence Agency officers and army personnel who regularly ransacked his father's office and questioned the family.

In April 2000, Ebrima led a student protest during which the army opened fire on the unarmed students, killing at least fourteen of them. After the shootings, the army continued to patrol the streets in search of the students. That night, Ebrima and his family fled to the neighboring country of Senegal, though even here, Ebrima was not safe since the National Intelligence Agency officers were still searching for him.

When Ebrima's father was granted U.S. asylum in February, 2001, the rest of Ebrima's family was entitled to asylum derived from the father's application but Ebrima was too old to be eligible for asylum on that basis. In October, 2001, on a rare trip out of his safe house, he went to the U.S. embassy in Dakar and received permission to travel to the United States so he could seek asylum on his own.

The firm received the case from the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in December 2001. Jeffrey Gross and John McCaffrey handled the case with assistance from fellow associate Alexandra Sorota. After they obtained affidavit testimony from an expert in Gambian politics and filed a brief on Ebrima's behalf, he was finally granted asylum after an interview with the Department of Homeland Security (formerly the INS). Ebrima now lives in New York with his father and brothers and hopes to be reunited soon with the rest of his family.