Monday, June 23, 2008
Daniel Negusie, an Eritrean Christian who was forced to stand guard at an Ethiopian prison camp, should be granted asylum and allowed to stay in the United States, according to an amicus brief filed at the Supreme Court today (June 23, 2008) by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The Becket Fund friend-of-the-court brief is co-signed by a broad coalition of religious and human rights organizations. All sides acknowledge that Negusie was incarcerated for two years, for refusing military service. He was released to serve as a prison guard, where he worked for four years. In that role, Negusie was forced to carry a gun, watch prisoners bake to death in the sun and prevent prisoner escapes. However, Negusie is credited with disobeying orders to inflict punishment on prisoners, allowing prisoners to take showers and sneaking them water. And he was punished for these acts of kindness. In 2004, Negusie escaped the camp by hiding in a container on a ship bound for the United States. U.S. immigration authorities denied Negusie asylum because, as a prison guard, he “assisted or otherwise participated in the persecution of others." The U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals said “the fact that [Negusie] was compelled to participate as a prison guard, and may not have actively tortured or mistreated anyone, is immaterial.” Daniel Girmai Negusie v. Michael Mukasey, Attorney General, will be one of the first cases the Supreme Court takes up this fall, hearing arguments Oct. 8.