(CN) – Immigration authorities “totally ignored” the “inherently torturous nature” of Chinese prison interrogations by ordering the deportation of a woman facing arrest in China for providing food and shelter to North Korean refugees, the 3rd Circuit ruled. It granted her petition to stay in the United States.
Jinyu Kang, a Korean citizen of China, fled the country after learning that she was wanted for arrest in China based on the help she gave North Korean refugees who illegally entered China on their way to South Korea. The warrant named Kang and two other members of a group called the Human Rights Organization.
An immigration judge denied her petition for asylum in the United States, but ruled that she could stay based on the torture she likely faced if sent back to China.
The Board of Immigration Appeals was not convinced that Kang faced torture, as the government argued that her evidence showed only substandard prison conditions and the “mistreatment” of some prisoners.
The Philadelphia-based appeals court reversed, calling the board’s decision “inexplicable” and “not supported by substantial evidence.”
“Instead, the record compels the contrary conclusion … that it is more likely than not that Kang will be tortured if returned to China,” Judge Marjorie Rendell wrote.
“The [board’s] assessment of the evidence, as well as the government’s argument portraying the evidence as involving mere prison conditions and ignoring the inherently torturous nature of the treatment … are inexplicable,” Rendell wrote.
The board “totally ignored” the testimony of former detainees who said Chinese officials “beat them, poured cold water over them, whipped them, put plastic bags over their heads to suffocate them, hung them in the air, shined bright lights into their eyes, deprived them of sleep, and shocked them with electrical current,” according to the ruling.
Rendell then chided the government for not supporting Kang’s petition after it realized that the board’s decision was wrong.
“Instead, the government sought to characterize the facts in such a way so as to distract the court from the dire nature of Kang’s plight,” the judge wrote. “While our adversarial system may permit such advocacy by private parties — when the
United States appears before us, it is duty-bound to ‘cut square corners’ and seek justice rather than victory. We are distressed that it failed to do so in this case.”
In a rare move, the court granted Kang’s petition to stay in the United States instead of sending the case back to the immigration agency for reconsideration.