Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 3.61 D. Persecution and Torture of Client if Deported

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Criminal defense counsel should consider investigating the human rights situation in the client’s country of origin.  If the client may be persecuted or tortured if deported back, the criminal prosecutor or court may be more open to allowing a non-deportable plea bargain or granting post-conviction relief to eliminate a deportable prior conviction.  Immigration counsel may already have investigated a claim under the political asylum, withholding of deportation, or Convention Against Torture immigration laws and may already have factual materials indicating the client’s family members have been beaten or persecuted on account of race, religion, or other asylum characteristics.  A case can be made in criminal court that deportation would be a disaster for the client even if the situation does not fit within the restrictions of these immigration law claims.  Perhaps the best book on the subject of asylum is D. Anker, the Law of Asylum in the United States (3d ed. 1999), with 2002 Supplement.  The Department of Justice provides the State Department Country Reports, including general information on human rights abuses country by country, at in the Virtual Law Library. 


                An excellent online resource for researching country conditions is maintained by the University of Washington School of Law Library.[204]  It lists the following basic resources:


State Department, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Online (1993-2005), print (1980, 1982-2005). JC571.U48 at Reference Area (many volumes duplicated in Classified Stacks)


U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. In left navigation bar, note “Browse by Country.” Includes access to writenet country of origin reports. (“Writenet is a network of researchers and writers on human rights, forced migration, ethnic and political conflict.”)


Human Rights Watch. In left navigation bar, note “Info by Country.”


Amnesty International. The best access by country might be to use the search feature in the upper right corner. contains very valuable resources, including country reports.


International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission issues country packets that document asylum issues related to sexual orientation or HIV status, which are available at


Basic Country Conditions Research, from the University of Minnesota Human Rights Library, is a table linking to country reports from the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, UNHCR Country Profiles, UNHCR Papers, and Write-Net Papers. This is really helpful, but it seems to have only information most recently from 1999.


News sources in LexisNexis and Westlaw: Use U.S. sources – New York Times, Washington Post, etc. –and use foreign news sources (e.g., AFRNEWS in Westlaw or MiddleEast/Africa News in LexisNexis).


World News Connection (UW restricted). News reports gathered by the Foreign Broadcast Information Bureau.


See lists on Human Rights and International Studies resources from UW Libraries.

[204] (last visited May 25, 2007).