Paul Hastings Secures Pro Bono Asylum Win for South Sudanese Opposition Leader and Family

September 20, 2023

Paul Hastings LLP secured a favorable asylum decision from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for political refugee Dr. Peter Ajak, the leader of South Sudan’s opposition, and his family. This decision allows them to remain in the United States free from persecution for their political opinions and beliefs.

The Paul Hastings team that secured asylum for Ajak and his family was led by ESG counsel Renata Parras and included associates Diogo Metz, Candice Shang, James Brown, and Paige Rinderer.

“We are thrilled for Peter, his wife, and their four children,” said Parras. “This decision puts an end to the uncertainty the Ajak family was facing and gives them ultimate relief that they are protected from the torture and violence they faced in their home country. We are proud to have been able to help such a deserving individual who has always put the interests of South Sudan’s civil society ahead of his own personal well-being.”

Ajak, a former child soldier, experienced the horrors of war and the disastrous consequences of an oppressive government during the Second Sudanese Civil War, which caused him to work toward a more democratic and prosperous South Sudan. He began his efforts in 2011 and, in 2017, founded the South Sudan Young Leaders Forum, an organization of emerging South Sudanese leaders across tribes and factions committed to ending conflict and seeking to place the country on a path toward democracy and peace.

For his commitment to his values and efforts to create a peaceful South Sudan, Ajak was unlawfully arrested and held in South Sudan’s infamous Blue House prison under extremely inhumane and precarious conditions, during which he endured repeated beatings, torture, and threats against him and his family for almost two years. Upon his release, Ajak first sought refuge in Kenya and, after a harrowing escape, arrived in the United States in July 2020.

Paul Hastings is committed to pro bono work and the global community. In 2022, the firm logged more than 82,000 hours of pro bono service and has more than 1,500 open pro bono matters across our domestic and international offices. More than 90% of the firm’s U.S. attorneys provided pro bono legal services in 2022 and more than 700 attorneys provided more than 20 hours. Learn more about Paul Hastings pro bono and community efforts here.

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