Ndudzi v. Garland

Case: 20-60782 Document: 00516404504 Page: 1 Date Filed: 07/22/2022 United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit FILED July 22, 2022 No. 20-60782 Lyle W. Cayce Clerk Mariana Ndudzi, Petitioner, versus Merrick Garland, U.S. Attorney General, Respondent. Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals Agency No. A201 665 987 Before Higginbotham, Dennis, and Graves, Circuit Judges. Per Curiam: The opinion issued July 20, 2022 is withdrawn by the panel, and the following is issued in its place: Mariana Ndudzi, a native and citizen of Angola, petitions for review of a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) decision denying her appeal of an immigration judge’s (IJ) denial of her application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). She argues that the Agency erred in finding her not credible and failed to review her corroborating evidence. We vacate and remand. Case: 20-60782 Document: 00516404504 Page: 2 Date Filed: 07/22/2022 No. 20-60782 I. Ndudzi is from Cabinda, an Angolan province that is geographically separate from the rest of Angola, with distinctive dialect and culture. Cabinda is a small, poor, coastal province of Angola that borders the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It produces half of Angola’s oil but has little local control of its resources and politics. Cabinda has been home to a “low-level separatist insurgency” since the 1960s. When Angola gained independence from Portugal in the 1970s, the separatist movement coalesced into the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (“FLEC”). Membership in FLEC is apparently often familial, and FLEC has engaged a violent insurgency against Angola for decades. FLEC’s fighting force has dwindled to “a few hundred men at most” in recent years due to a 2006 peace agreement with the Angolan government. But it still has carried out violent attacks in the last decade, including shooting at the Togolese national soccer team as it drove through Cabinda to the African Cup in 2019. The Angolan government now maintains an extensive military presence in Cabinda to quell dissent. Cabinda also remains impoverished and subject to regular human rights violations at the hands of Angolan government affiliates. Outside of FLEC, a substantial swath of the Cabindan population engages in peaceful demonstrations against Angolan rule. This widespread sympathy to the independence movement apparently renders many Cabindans subject to arbitrary human rights violations in Angola’s attempts to cow the province, with disappearances, torture, and intimidation routine. Ndudzi’s basic allegation is that the Angolan government identified her as a supporter of the independence movement after she attended a church-organized, pro-independence rally in 2016. Soon thereafter, three armed men in government uniforms broke into her home and, in front of her 2 Case: 20-60782 Document: 00516404504 Page: 3 Date Filed: 07/22/2022 No. 20-60782 children, beat and raped her, leading to a three-day hospital stay. Ndudzi claimed, in her asylum application and in sworn testimony before an IJ, that she was never formally …

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