Project South, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, South Georgia Immigrant Support Network, and Staff and Students at Harvard Law School Outline Violations
A year after immigrants’ rights supporters first shed light on the horrific abuses of women detained at the Irwin County Detention Center (“ICDC”) in Georgia, advocates have released a detailed report illustrating the gross human rights violations faced by immigrant women at ICDC.
The new report, titled Violence and Violation: Medical abuse of immigrants detained at the Irwin County Detention Center, features firsthand accounts from survivors who were subjected to invasive and nonconsensual surgeries and gynecological procedures, while detained in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). One woman, recalling her experiences, says it felt as though her “ovary was rotting from the inside.” In other instances, when women with pain or other medical concerns spoke out about Dr. Mahendra Amin, an obstetrician-gynecologist practicing at the facility, they were often ignored or faced retaliation from ICDC guards.
“The pain and suffering these women endured in ICE custody is appalling, and a shameful recurrence of this country’s dark history,” said Priyanka Bhatt, Staff Attorney at Project South, one of the five groups responsible for the report. “Sadly, these abuses by the agency do not stand alone; ICE has a proven track record of violating human rights inside their deadly prisons. ICE and all parties involved, including the private prison company, LaSalle Corrections, must be held accountable and ICDC survivors must receive justice and reparations immediately.”
Since ICE contracted with ICDC in 2011, advocates have consistently raised concerns about the treatment of immigrants at the facility, including the lack of adequate medical and mental health care. The new report describes abuses that occurred at ICDC and continue to occur in ICE prisons across the country, including women subjected to medically unnecessary, nonconsensual, or invasive gynecological procedures while in detention, in violation of international human rights treaties and standards and domestic law, including the U.S. Constitution.
“It’s disturbing that this type of abuse and maltreatment is ongoing in the United States and that detained immigrants are the victims,” said Cindy Zapata, Clinical Instructor at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic and Supervising Attorney of the HLS Immigration Project. “These women have displayed unimaginable bravery in speaking out against this abuse, and some have suffered direct retaliation with deportation and separation from their families. But in spite of it all, they continue to demand change.”
The report, written by Project South, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and South Georgia Immigrant Support Network, in collaboration with the HLS Immigration Project and the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic, is a follow up to advocates’ original complaint about human rights violations submitted to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General last September. The complaint prompted more than 170 members of Congress to demand an investigation.
“We call for the immediate closure of ICDC and reparations for all the survivors of ICDC and defunding of ICE,” says Bhatt. “We also demand that all the women involved in the investigation into medical abuses at ICDC be offered assistance to allow them to pursue immigration relief in the U.S. and address the damage caused by the human rights abuses they suffered. As one ICDC survivor stated: ‘We need justice and freedom.’”