Irfred Kaine, a prominent and outspoken journalist in his home country of Liberia, contributed to several newspapers and managed his own. He wrote extensively about the Liberian presidential election and published candidate profiles.
Following the 2006 elections, Kaine was dragged from his car, beaten, and threatened with death. His attackers claimed that his stories had cast their candidate in a negative light. Kaine was hospitalized; he moved his family to a safer location.
Undeterred, he continued to criticize the Liberian government. He received death threats from people claiming to represent former and current government officials. Warlord Charles Taylor’s nephew guaranteed that—once elected to the Liberian senate—he would kill Kaine. Despite regular complaints to the Liberian Justice Ministry, Kaine received no response or protection from law enforcement.
Kaine left journalism, taking a position with the Liberian Land Commission to resolve land disputes arising after the country’s civil war. He was often put in harm’s way to carry out his work. Following a 2010 U.S.-based Radio Liberia interview in which he criticized an upcoming referendum process, he was threatened and his supervisor sent him on dangerous assignments.
Taylor’s nephew—the person who had threatened Kaine— won a seat in the country’s senate in 2011. Fearing the threats on his life would be carried out, Kaine fled to the United States.
He contacted The Advocates for Human Rights for help. Volunteer attorney Kim Hunter took the case, and Kaine was granted asylum in October 2012.
“I had to believe that I would be granted [asylum],” he said. “Kim was there for me. I respected her and she respected me. We worked as a team.”
Mr. Kaine's identity and photo were used with his permission.
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