The Ninth Circuit has held that the Department of Homeland Security does not rebut the presumption of a well-founded fear of persecution raised by a petitioner who experienced past persecution when the only evidence they submit is 5-year-old country conditions reports. “Unlike fine wine, reports on country conditions do not improve with age—a reality that our colleagues on the Second Circuit have repeatedly acknowledged.” Outdated country conditions reports cannot serve to demonstrate that current country conditions are such that a petitioner is not in danger of persecution. “Common sense dictates that the government cannot meet its burden of rebutting the presumption by presenting evidence of the Salvadoran government’s human rights record at a time when the government was run by a different political party— particularly when the government is now run, as it was at the time of the IJ hearing, by the very same FMLN who persecuted the Quiroz Parada family.”

“Because the agency’s determination that the government successfully rebutted the presumption of future persecution is unsupported by substantial evidence, we hold that the presumption has not been rebutted and that Quiroz Parada is statutorily eligible for asylum and entitled to withholding of removal, and remand for the Attorney General to exercise his discretion under 8 U.S.C. § 1158(b) as to whether to grant asylum. Particularly where, as here, the government took thirteen years to process the asylum application and then another five years to hold a hearing before an IJ—during which time the government had every opportunity to submit more up-to-date evidence of changed country conditions, but failed to do so—to provide the government with another opportunity to present evidence of changed country conditions would be exceptionally unfair.”

With respect to the petitioner’s application for protection under the Convention Against Torture, the Court found that the country conditions reports and other evidence in the record established not only that the government acquiesced in the MS gang’s violence, but also that Salvadoran security forces engaged in torture on a regular basis.

The full text of Quiroz Parada v. Sessions can be found here: