Djedovic v. Gonzales, No. 05-1754.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtEasterbrook
Citation441 F.3d 547
PartiesNatasa DJEDOVIC, et al., Petitioners, v. Alberto R. GONZALES, Attorney General of the United States, Respondent.
Decision Date23 March 2006
Docket NumberNo. 05-1754.
441 F.3d 547
Natasa DJEDOVIC, et al., Petitioners,
v.
Alberto R. GONZALES, Attorney General of the United States, Respondent.
No. 05-1754.
United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.
Argued March 1, 2006.
Decided March 23, 2006.

Page 548

Mark S. Kocol (argued), Chicago, IL, for Petitioners.

Karen Lundgren, Department of Homeland Security, Office of the District Counsel, Chicago, IL, Kathryn Ann Kelly (argued), Department of Justice, Civil Division, Immigration Litigation, Washington, DC, for Respondent.

Before EASTERBROOK, WILLIAMS, and SYKES, Circuit Judges.

EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judge.


Sabrije Slakovic and Natasa Djedovic are citizens of Serbia and Montenegro (), one of the shards into which Yugoslavia fractured following the collapse of communism in eastern Europe. They seek asylum in the United States on behalf of themselves and their three dependent children. Slakovic was drafted, went into hiding to avoid military service, was caught, and deserted after nine days; he contends that if returned he would be persecuted because of this desertion and his opposition to the use of force

Page 549

against fellow Muslims. Djedovic, a Christian, contends that she would be persecuted because of her marriage to Slakovic many residents of Pecurice, where they lived together in Montenegro, adamantly oppose marriage across religious lines. Slakovic and Djedovic sought other forms of relief, but because they proposed to enter the United States under a visa-waiver program only a grant of asylum would entitle them to remain. See Wigglesworth v. INS, 319 F.3d 951, 955-56 (7th Cir. 2003).

Slakovic was drafted in May 1999, during the Kosovo War. Serbian forces were removing ethnic Albanians from Kosovo. The European Union and the United States opposed this, and in March 1999 NATO began military activities against Serbia. Hostilities lasted until June 10, 1999, when Slobodan Milosevic gave up the fight and United Nations peacekeepers separated the Serbian and Albanian combatants. The conflict had ethnic rather than religious roots, but about 70% of ethnic Albanians are Moslem, and Slakovic did not want to take up arms against his co-religionists. He contends, moreover, that during his brief period of training he heard some other soldiers relish the prospect of killing Moslems. He does not maintain, however, that the military deprived him of weapons or planned to use him (or other Moslems) as cannon fodder, as Serbian forces sometimes had done in the Bosnian conflict. The immigration judge acknowledged that exposing adherents of one religion to greater risks of injury in combat than members of another would be a form of persecution. See, e.g., Miljkovic v. INS, 376 F.3d 754 (7th Cir. 2004); Begzatowski v. INS, 278 F.3d 665 (7th Cir.2002). Being trained to engage in atrocities also could be persecution, see Matter of A-G-, 19 I & N Dec. 502, 506 (BIA 1987), but Slakovic does not contend that this was his unit's objective.

The immigration judge, who believed Slakovic's testimony, concluded that the events he described do not amount to persecution; the Board of Immigration Appeals agreed. Substantial evidence supports that decision. All Slakovic faced was military conscription, which is not a form of persecution, see Tesfu v. Ashcroft, 322 F.3d 477, 482 (7th Cir.2003); Mojsilovic v. INS, 156 F.3d 743, 747 (7th Cir.1998), and comments by other soldiers not directed against him personally. See Mitev v. INS, 67 F.3d 1325, 1330-31 (7th Cir.1995). Even if we assume that Slakovic would be imprisoned on return for his desertion, that is not persecution unless the draft and military service are persecution. Slakovic does not contend that Moslem deserters are treated worse than Christian deserters. Indeed, Slakovic is unlikely to be punished at all. Ex-president Milosevic, who had been put on trial in an international criminal court, died earlier this month; in 2001 his successors announced an amnesty that appears to cover Slakovic. Cf. Mojsilovic, 156 F.3d at 747.

Djedovic testified that she and her children had been disowned by her parents and shunned by their neighbors in Pecurice. People she met in the street sometimes called her "ugly words" and spat in her direction. Again the immigration judge believed this testimony; again he found that this does not amount to persecution. Shunning is private activity rather than anything sponsored, approved, or enforced by the state. Djedovic does not contend that she or her children were in physical danger; the family lived in Pecurice for six years without incident beyond the personal unpleasantness, and Slakovic was gainfully employed. (Djedovic, who remained home to care for the children, did not testify that she was in the job

Page 550

market and had been unable to find work.) The agency's decision that...

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19 practice notes
  • Miranda v. Cnty. of Lake, No. 17-1603
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • August 10, 2018
    ...Shepard , 321 F.3d 616, 620–22 (7th Cir. 2003). The duty applies "when suicide takes the form of starving oneself to death." Freeman , 441 F.3d at 547 ; accord Rodriguez v. Briley , 403 F.3d 952, 953 (7th Cir. 2005). In barring this theory, the court reasoned that the Estate had not present......
  • In re Bahadur, EP-19-CV-00357-DCG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • February 27, 2020
    ...indifference to the risk of a [detainee's] committing suicide is a standard basis for a federal civil rights suit." Freeman , 441 F.3d at 547. see also Kumar , 402 F. Supp. 3d at 384 ("[A]llowing Respondent to starve himself to death would violate the obligations the United States owes as a......
  • Comm'r of Corr. v. Coleman, No. 18721.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • March 13, 2012
    ...than they do to maintain discipline, because of the effect of a suicide in agitating the other prisoners.” Freeman v. Berge, supra, 441 F.3d at 547; accord McNabb v. Dept. of Corrections, supra, 163 Wash.2d at 408, 180 P.3d 1257 (“an inmate's slow death by starvation would have an unpredict......
  • Bezio v. Dorsey, No. 65.
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • May 2, 2013
    ...psychological strain and the jail or prison under a commensurate duty to prevent the prisoner from giving way to the strain” ( Freeman, 441 F.3d at 547). Moreover, there is virtually universal recognition among appellate courts that an inmate hunger strike can have a significant destabilizi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • Miranda v. Cnty. of Lake, No. 17-1603
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • August 10, 2018
    ...Shepard , 321 F.3d 616, 620–22 (7th Cir. 2003). The duty applies "when suicide takes the form of starving oneself to death." Freeman , 441 F.3d at 547 ; accord Rodriguez v. Briley , 403 F.3d 952, 953 (7th Cir. 2005). In barring this theory, the court reasoned that the Estate had not present......
  • In re Bahadur, EP-19-CV-00357-DCG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • February 27, 2020
    ...indifference to the risk of a [detainee's] committing suicide is a standard basis for a federal civil rights suit." Freeman , 441 F.3d at 547. see also Kumar , 402 F. Supp. 3d at 384 ("[A]llowing Respondent to starve himself to death would violate the obligations the United States owes as a......
  • Comm'r of Corr. v. Coleman, No. 18721.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • March 13, 2012
    ...than they do to maintain discipline, because of the effect of a suicide in agitating the other prisoners.” Freeman v. Berge, supra, 441 F.3d at 547; accord McNabb v. Dept. of Corrections, supra, 163 Wash.2d at 408, 180 P.3d 1257 (“an inmate's slow death by starvation would have an unpredict......
  • Bezio v. Dorsey, No. 65.
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • May 2, 2013
    ...psychological strain and the jail or prison under a commensurate duty to prevent the prisoner from giving way to the strain” ( Freeman, 441 F.3d at 547). Moreover, there is virtually universal recognition among appellate courts that an inmate hunger strike can have a significant destabilizi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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