Matter of S-V-
Board of Immigration Appeals
22 I & N Dec. 1306 (2000)
S-V- (plaintiff) was a citizen of Colombia who had been granted lawful permanent-resident status in the United States in 1981. By 1998, S-V- had been convicted of crimes, such as grand theft and robbery, and sentenced to prison for four years. During removal proceedings, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) held that S-V- was not eligible for withholding of removal due to his criminal conviction and his sentence. The BIA then assessed S-V-’s claim for protection under the Convention against Torture (the convention), to which the United States was a party. The convention prohibited government involvement in torture either directly or through the acquiescence of government officials or persons acting on behalf of a government. As implemented through legislation in the United States, a government official’s acquiescence in acts of torture did not require actual knowledge but required that the official was aware that torture would occur and then failed to act to prevent the torture from occurring. By requiring awareness rather than knowledge, the United States Senate made it clear that a government official’s acquiescence included both actual knowledge of acts of torture and willful blindness to such acts. Citing the civil war in Colombia, S-V- argued that he feared danger if he returned to Colombia because of the activities of guerilla, paramilitary, and narcotrafficking groups. The guerilla groups funded their operations via kidnapping. S-V- explained that in an effort to negotiate peace, the Colombian government had previously given land to the guerilla groups. However, this grant of land resulted in the government being rendered unable to curtail the kidnappings that occurred nationwide. S-V- feared being targeted for kidnapping by a nongovernment guerilla group if he returned to Colombia.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Heilman, J.)
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