Sunday, May 4, 2008
Court of Appeals Judges Blast DOJ Attorney in Female Genital Mutilation Case
The Associated Press reports that federal judges grew increasingly impatient and sometimes angry last week as they questioned government lawyers on why the United States denied asylum to three women who suffered genital mutilation in Guinea. The three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit must decide whether the Board of Immigration Appeals was right to deny asylum to the women and permit them to be returned to Guinea. At the hearing, the judges seemed particularly upset at a conclusion by the government that it was fair to return the women to Guinea because they could not suffer further persecution since mutilation had already occurred. At times, all three judges raised their voices or cut off lawyers to make a point. "Supply me any case in which a well-founded fear of persecution was not sustained because the same leg couldn't be amputated or the same organ removed," demanded Judge Rosemary Pooler.
The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at UC Hastings submitted a brief to the court saying that female genital mutilation was "usually just the beginning of an extended course of threats to life or freedom that women who have been victimized by the act can expect to face."