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Refugee Assistance Project

Cases & Credits

A Mauritanian persecuted, arrested, imprisoned and tortured for his Fulani heritage

Law Firm
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

Natalie Shimmel Drucker
Alyssa Watzman
Vanessa Bressler

Justice Center Project Management
Jennifer Kim, Martin York

In May 2008, Mr. S., a Mauritanian whose asylum application had been pending for almost eight years, was finally granted asylum in immigration court. Mr. S. was represented by Natalie Shimmel Drucker, Alyssa Watzman, and Vanessa Bressler, a stellar pro bono legal team from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

In addition to being persecuted, arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the Mauritanian government because of his Fulani heritage, Mr. S. was also attacked for being a member of FLAM, a political organization with which he was not affiliated. After being physically expelled from Mauritania in 1990, Mr. S. spent the next ten years fighting to survive in a refugee camp in Senegal. In 2000, he fled to the United States and applied for asylum.

By the time he came to the City Bar Justice Center, he was already in removal and his case involved numerous and seemingly insurmountable challenges, including his extreme trauma and social dislocation, a very difficult one-year filing deadline issue and changed country conditions in Mauritania.

Working in partnership with the Justice Center, the Simpson Thacher & Bartlett team put together a compelling asylum claim on behalf of their client. They wrote a detailed and comprehensive affidavit for Mr. S., as well as an excellent memorandum of law, and obtained numerous supporting affidavits, country reports and articles about the continued uncertain plight of black Mauritanians.