NEW YORK (July 14, 2009) – McDermott Will & Emery LLP has secured asylum in the United States for a political activist from Zimbabwe who fled to this country in May 2008 after being brutally attacked and then threatened with death by Zimbabwe government agents. On July 6, 2009, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service's New York Asylum Office granted asylum to McDermott's client, 56-year-old G. H.
Zimbabwe's current president, Robert Mugabe, and his political party, ZANU-PF, have been in power since Zimbabwe's first free elections in 1980. G.H. joined the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) when it formed in 1999 and became a community organizer for the party. Because of his political activism on behalf of MDC, G.H. was brutally attacked on numerous occasions, including one incident when members of ZANU-PF ambushed him, beat him, and set him on fire.
G.H.'s case was referred to McDermott by Human Rights First in September 2008. A New York pro bono team began assembling the paperwork necessary for G.H.'s asylum application, but because of G.H.'s fragile health, resulting both from the abuse he had suffered and unrelated medical conditions, a variety of additional affidavits were necessary to supplement his application. The McDermott legal team spent months working with G.H.'s medical team and his therapist to draft supplemental affidavits detailing his medical condition, including medical corroboration of torture.
McDermott's New York pro bono team consisted of trial partner Lisa A. Linsky and associate Monica Asher, with additional assistance provided by associates Audrey Lu, Toni Ann Kruse and Rachel Hundley.
In 2008, McDermott lawyers and staff devoted more than 94,900 hours to pro bono matters and community service. The people of McDermott Will & Emery understand their unique obligation and professional responsibility as lawyers to enhance the lives of those in need and are committed to ensuring that low-income and disadvantaged individuals have access to justice.
McDermott Will & Emery is a premier international law firm with a diversified business practice. Numbering more than 1,100 lawyers, we have offices in Boston, Brussels, Chicago, Dusseldorf, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Milan, Munich, New York, Orange County, Rome, San Diego, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. Extending our reach to Asia, we have a strategic alliance with MWE China Law Offices in Shanghai.