(CN) – The 11th Circuit revived the political asylum case of a Togolese man who was allegedly beaten and arrested for protesting. The Board of Immigration Appeals had rejected his testimony based on purported inconsistencies that “were not inconsistencies at all,” the court ruled.
The petitioner came to the United States on a student visa and applied for asylum, claiming he had been persecuted and tortured in Togo because of his political opinions.
He belonged to three groups at the time: a political group called the Union Force for Change; the New Dynamic Popular, a group formed to protest a change in the Togolese constitution that barred his political party’s candidate from running for office; and a student group known as the CEUL.
While a student in Togo, the petitioner allegedly participated in a demonstration against the government. He claimed that police beat him, tied him up and threw him into a truck. They then took him to a military encampment, he said, where they tied him to a pole and lifted him about two meters off the ground. For the next two hours, police allegedly beat him with their belts and clubs. Before he was released, he said he was forced to sign a document vowing not to participate in another protest.
But he allegedly broke that promise by leading a student protest at the University of Lome. When police showed up and began beating protesters, he said, he escaped to his aunt’s house. He then found out that police had issued a summons for his arrest, so he fled to the United States.
The immigration judge denied his asylum application based on three perceived inconsistencies between his testimony and his written statement. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed.
However, the Atlanta-based federal appeals court vacated and remanded, saying the board’s credibility determination “is not supported by any of the rationales that it cited.”