On Petition for Review of an Order of The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA Nos. A29-760-955, A29-760-956, A29-760-957, A29-760-958 A29-760-959, A29-760-960).
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ambro, Circuit Judge
Before: ROTH and AMBRO, Circuit Judges SHAPIRO,*fn1 District Judge
Khalid Mahmood Butt petitions for review of the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") denying his claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture ("CAT").*fn2 The Immigration Judge ("IJ") presiding over Butt's case denied these claims based on his determination that Butt was not credible, and that decision was affirmed without opinion by the BIA. Because the IJ's credibility determination is not supported by substantial evidence in the record, we grant the petition.
I. Factual Background & Procedural History
Butt is a native and citizen of Pakistan. From 1969 to 1970, he worked full time in his father's dry cleaning business. Subsequently, he worked there only part-time so that he could also work for the Pakistan People's Party ("PPP"), a political party. His involvement in that organization increased over time, and in 1971 he began working for the PPP full time. Butt testified before the IJ that he did not receive compensation from the PPP, but his family was sufficiently well off to allow him to continue to work only for the party. Butt was the General Secretary of his local PPP ward from 1980 to 1990. From 1984 to 1996, he was also a "Counselor," which appears to be an elected position within the PPP.
Butt testified that, as General Secretary, he collected dues for the PPP and held party meetings at his home. He stated that the PPP existed to help local people solve their problems and that it wanted "everyone [to] . . . have a right to speak." Butt attempted to assist people within his ward with issues such as obtaining water facilities and health care. He also helped people who had problems with the police.
In the 1980s, Pakistan was under military rule, and Butt testified that he was arrested twice during this time-in 1987-and charged with being a troublemaker. According to Butt, the police told him on both occasions that they did not like the PPP and that he should stop his activities on behalf of the party. Each time Butt was released after a couple hours.
Elections were held in Pakistan in 1989, after the governing general died, and the PPP gained power in the country. However, its government dissolved on August 6, 1990. Butt testified that he was again arrested on August 31, 1990 and detained until September 7, 1990. He stated that he was not given food or water for two days and that he was beaten at least twice a day, sometimes with a leather strap. Butt related his treatment while detained as follows: "They hung me upside down and beat me. They stripped me and beat me . . . . And they beat me up so brutally that my leg and my back [were] so hurt and still my leg and my back do not function properly." Butt stated that he could not walk for some time after he was released.
Butt and his wife testified that Butt was treated by a doctor (Dr. Sasjad) from September 10, 1990 to October 15, 1990 for his injuries and that his treatment took place at home. At his hearing, Butt introduced a doctor's note regarding this time period that reads: "Certified that I have examined and treated Mr. Khalid Mahmood Butt . . . . He reported at my clinic with multiple bruises on both legs and back. He remained under my treatment . . . 10-9-90 to 15-10-90." When asked about this note, Butt testified that he did not remember going to the clinic, but because he was unconscious when he was brought home after his release from detention, he may have been taken to the clinic for treatment at that time without having been aware of it.
Butt testified that, after this incident, his friends, family, and the PPP advised him that his life was in danger and that he and his family should leave the country. He stated that he and his family went into hiding at a friend's house until they left Pakistan for the United States in November 1990. According to Butt, the PPP arranged for their visas and passports.
Butt also testified that he was being "framed" for "another [criminal] case" right before he left Pakistan. A criminal information naming Butt, among others, as a member of the PPP was introduced as documentary evidence at his hearing before the IJ. Butt stated that he had not seen the actual document before he left Pakistan but that he knew about it at that time. According to ...