(CN) – A Mexican national who was tortured for exposing government corruption will get another chance at asylum in the United States after the 9th Circuit ruled he qualified as a whistleblower under the Convention Against Torture.
Isidro Perez-Ramirez worked as a purchasing analyst for Protin-Bos-a Mexican state agency that develops forest areas. In 1986, Perez-Ramirez began to notice fictitious names on the employment roster, fraudulent claims for overtime hours, gas, and car repairs.
Perez-Ramirez received permission from his supervisor to implement reforms, and began distributing the paychecks himself.
His anti-corruption efforts did not go unnoticed. In February 1987, Perez-Ramirez was forcibly stopped on his way to one of the company’s greenhouses by a group of men who said that a “high-ranking government official” wanted him to return control of the payroll records to the greenhouse managers. Perez-Ramirez refused and was threatened twice and physically attacked five times.
After receiving a promotion, his new supervisor, David Moreno, began instructing Perez-Ramirez to make purchases only from distributors that Moreno selected and vendors who would share a percentage of the sales.
When Perez-Ramirez refused to comply he was arrested on eight occasions and tortured by Mexican police.
Perez-Ramirez attempted to resign, but was told by Moreno that he owed a debt of 600 million pesos which had to be paid before he could leave. Perez-Ramirez ultimately cleared his name of the debt and left Protin-Bos in 1989.
He fled to the United State and applied for asylum in 1997. His parents continue to receive threats and several of their livestock were killed.
An immigration judge found Perez-Ramirez did not qualify for asylum under the Convention Against Torture because he only reported corruption to his supervisors, rather than exposing it to the public. An Immigration Board of Appeals affirmed in a two-to-one vote.
But the 9th Circuit overturned the ruling.
“The individual is ‘not required to expose governmental corruption to the public at large’ or an outside agency in order to qualify as a whistleblower for the purposes of asylum… It is sufficient if the whistleblowing individual reported the government corruption to superiors and suffered retaliation for acting against the corruption,” Judge Procter Hug Jr. wrote for the three-judge panel.
Perez-Ramirez still must prove on remand that he has a well-founded fear of future persecution in order to qualify for relief.