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Women’s Refugee Commission Condemns Human Rights Violations in ICE Detention Centers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, multiple groups, including Government Accountability Project, Project South, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and the South Georgia Immigrant Support Network, filed two complaints with the Department of Homeland Security detailing deeply concerning responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and numerous other examples of medical and other mistreatment at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Georgia.

The complaints were based in part on accounts by detained individuals at the ICDC of abuse and mistreatment and also by a whistleblower nurse, Dawn Wooten, describing an inadequate and irresponsible response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other allegations of mistreatment. The complaint filed by Project South, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and the South Georgia Immigrant Support Network specifically raised alarming concerns over unnecessary hysterectomies performed on multiple women detained at ICDC.

“We already know that immigration detention is fundamentally punitive and harmful, and has been expanded in unprecedented ways under the Trump administration to punish people seeking asylum at our borders and immigrants in our communities,” said Katharina Obser, senior policy advisor in the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “Yet these reports of women being subjected to hysterectomies without their consent are beyond horrifying. The government must recognize that the system of immigration detention, at ICDC but also more broadly, is beyond repair.

“The Women’s Refugee Commission toured ICDC nearly a decade ago and we were deeply concerned then over the remote facility’s treatment of women, including pregnant women. In numerous visits to other ICE detention facilities since that time we have documented over and over – through the reports of the women, men, and families who share their stories with us – the cruel and degrading experience of detention, the often grossly inadequate medical and mental health care they receive, and the near impossibility of successfully navigating an immigration case while imprisoned.

“These horrific allegations are consistent with a clear pattern of abusive and inhumane treatment – as frequently publicly and bravely protested by those detained themselves – that asylum-seeking people and all immigrants have faced under this administration. Those inflicting this cruelty must be held to account, and real accountability for these and other longstanding human rights violations must include an end to the U.S. practice of detaining immigrants.”