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Kegeh v. Sessions

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 31, 2017

Kodjo Kegeh, also known as Jean-Paul Christian Kegeh Petitioner
v.
Jefferson B. Sessions, III, Attorney General of the United States Respondent

          Submitted: March 7, 2017

         Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals

          Before WOLLMAN, MELLOY, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

          SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.

         Kodjo Kegeh applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The Immigration Judge (IJ) denied all three applications. Kegeh appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), which affirmed the IJ's decision. Kegeh petitions for review, arguing that the IJ and the BIA erred in denying his applications. We deny the petition because Kegeh has failed to meet his burden: to show that any reasonable adjudicator would be compelled to find in his favor.

         I.

         Since 1969, the West African nation of Togo has been governed by a single national political party. After the death of the previous president in 2005, Faure Gnassingbe became president by military fiat. In April of that year, a presidential election was held. Gnassingbe was elected president, but the election process was marred by irregularities and violence. Under pressure from the international community to change, President Gnassingbe and members of some opposition parties signed the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in 2006. One opposition party, the UFC, declined to join. Kodjo Kegeh was a member of the UFC.

         Kegeh is a citizen and native of Togo, and his native language is French. He was admitted to the United States as a nonimmigrant visitor on March 1, 2011, with permission to remain here until August 31, 2011. He did not leave by that date and has remained in this country ever since. In late 2011, he submitted applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the CAT to the Department of Homeland Security's United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

         Kegeh's application was accompanied by an affidavit. His attorney helped him prepare both documents. According to Kegeh, he prepared both documents in French, and then his French was translated into English. The English translation was then read back to him in French. Kegeh stated that he was aware of what was in his application and affidavit.

         In February 2012, an asylum officer from USCIS interviewed Kegeh. Later that month, USCIS referred Kegeh to removal proceedings before an IJ after concluding that Kegeh lacked credibility and provided testimony inconsistent with his affidavit. Removal proceedings then began pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(1)(B).

         A.

         At hearings before an IJ, Kegeh testified that he represented the UFC at a poll station during the April 2005 presidential election. After the voting closed and the ballots were being counted, military forces appeared and violence broke out. Kegeh testified that soldiers started beating people and using tear gas on them, but he did not mention soldiers shooting or using real bullets.

         When the election results were announced two days later, and Gnassingbe was elected president, Kegeh and other members of the UFC protested. Kegeh testified that the military came to the protest armed with guns but did not use them against the protestors.

         A short while later, Kegeh and others were kidnapped by the military. Soldiers took him into a military barracks where he was subjected to severe physical abuse. The next day, he and the others were driven out to a field. The beatings began again, and Kegeh fell unconscious. He testified that the next memory he had was waking up in a clinic with severe burns on his chest and torso. Kegeh avers that the military set him and the others on fire after the beatings. Villagers found him barely alive and took him to the clinic. In a 2012 letter purportedly from Kegeh's wife but written by a pastor in Togo, she confirms that Kegeh was beaten and burned in April 2005. At the hearing, Kegeh began to lift his shirt to ...


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