Bipolar Tanzanian Man Granted U.S. Asylum over Disorder

Country treats mental illnesses as a form of demonic possession


A bipolar man who says he was repeatedly tortured in Tanzania where mental illness is regarded as demon possession may qualify for U.S. asylum, the 4th Circuit ruled.

Homeland Security had tried to deport Tumaini Temu back to Tanzania in 2010, four years after his temporary visa expired. In his application for asylum, withholding of removal and relief under the Convention Against Torture, Temu claimed that his mental illness put him in a persecuted social group in his home country.

Though an immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals denied Temu's application, a divided three-judge panel of the Richmond, Va.-based federal appeals court reversed Thursday.

It is uncontested, according to the ruling, that the young man suffered a mental breakdown and was forced to withdraw during his final year at the University of Dar es Salaam after learning that his mother had been killed in an automobile accident.