Posted on April 29, 2005

Government to Pay Refugee Denied Asylum

Justin M. Norton, AP, Apr. 28

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. government agreed to pay $87,500 to settle a lawsuit brought by a Kenyan refugee who was denied political asylum in the United States.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, which handled the woman’s case, said it is the first time an arriving refugee has received a settlement in a lawsuit accusing the government of negligence.

Rosebell Munyua, 35, claimed the government was negligent because it sent her back to Kenya, even though she said she told immigration officials she feared for her life.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the settlement, filed Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco, was not an admission of wrongdoing, but declined to comment further.

Munyua arrived with her 2-year-old daughter at the San Francisco airport in 2001 seeking political asylum. Munyua claimed she and her husband were members of an opposition party in Kenya and had been beaten and tortured by Kenyan authorities. Munyua said her husband had gone into hiding in Tanzania.

She said immigration officers interrogated her at the airport and refused her asylum request, forcing her to board the next plane back to Kenya, where she claimed to have gone into hiding for more than six months, according to court documents.