Human Rights First Calls for Investigation into Whistleblower Complaint of Medical Negligence at Immigration Detention Facility in Georgia

HRF renews calls for immigrants to be released from detention during the pandemic 

WASHINGTON — Human Rights First today called for investigations into a whistleblower’s allegations of inadequate and inappropriate health care for immigrants detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Irwin Detention Center in Georgia. The whistleblower relayed horrific accounts of female detainees suffering unnecessary hysterectomies for common gynecological complaints and has alleged that officials in this facility are refusing to take steps to protect immigrants from COVID-19.

Human Rights First, which has long advocated for the use of community-based case management rather than detention, yesterday joined with the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Friends Service Committee and the Women’s Refugee Commission to issue a report that points to “a persistent pattern of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of pregnant people in ICE detention.” The report called for immediate action “to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of pregnant migrants and asylum seekers during and long after the pandemic.”

“The whistleblower’s allegations are horrific and reflect the broader failure of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and ICE to safeguard the lives and health of asylum seekers and immigrants,’ said Becky Gendelman, a refugee protection attorney at Human Rights First. “Congress and the DHS Office of the Inspector General should conduct a full inquiry of the reports of unnecessary hysterectomies and the widespread failure to protect immigrants from the spread of  COVID-19, at this and other facilities. The bottom line is that U.S. immigration detention policies violate human rights standards. People die and suffer lasting harms in detention. Instead of mass detention, the United States should be using more humane and cost-effective community-based case management to oversee cases of people in removal proceedings.”

Human Rights First has been tracking COVID-19 cases in ICE Detention Centers in its Detained In Danger database. Human Rights First – along with medical experts, former ICE officials and other organizations – has urged DHS and ICE to release asylum seekers and immigrants from ICE detention to protect them, and U.S. communities, from the spread of the coronavirus.


Published on September 15, 2020


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