Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Immigration Officials Drug Deportees

U.S. Immigration officials have been accused of improperly drugging two men against their will during an effort to deport them from Los Angeles. One of the men is a Indonesian who is appealing his case for political asylum. The other man is Senegalese and is seeking permanent legal status in the U.S.

Officials from the U.S. Public Health Services say they will drug deportees during transport if they are severely agitated or present a danger to themselves or others. According the the Times story, the drugs commonly used are lorazepam, haloperidol, olanzapine and benztropine.

The incident involving the Indonesian man, who says he would be subject to religious persecution if forced to return to his country, occurred in December of 2004. He had applied for asylum after he arrived in 1999, but lost the case and appealed. While in custody, he was informed that he was to be deported and that he would not be able to talk to his wife or attorney. Medical files indicate he may have tried to kill himself. He denies that, and says he told authorities he was fine and didn't want any drugs. But, he says, he was injected a few hours later against his will.
"Why are they doing this to me?" Soeoth recalled thinking before losing consciousness and being taken to the airport. "I am no animal."

After arriving at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), security officials cancelled his removal because immigration officials apparently did not give proper notification to the airline.

The incident involving the Senegalese man occurred in February 2006 aboard a commercial flight preparing to fly out of LAX. The man, who is married to a U.S. citizen, told immigration officials he had received a stay of deportation. But the next morning he was told that he was being returned to Senegal. He was offered the anti-psychotic pills by one agent, while a "medical escort" (who was carrying a syringe) reportedly told him they didn't want any problems.
On the plane, Diouf, who was handcuffed, said he told a flight attendant in French that he wanted to speak to the captain so he could tell him about the stay. The medical escort told him he wasn't following orders and took out the syringe and a bottle of water. Diouf said he began yelling as the agents wrestled him to the floor and injected him.

The pilot apparently ordered them all off the plane.

Both men have since been released and are still in the U.S. The ACLU is representing them and is investigating the incidents. The cases are currently pending in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Experts cited by the Times "expressed outrage" when told of the incidents.
"It is inappropriate to give these kinds of injections and put people on aircraft in violation of the federal air regulations that prohibit the transport of drugged individuals," said professor Abraham R. Wagner of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. "It is not how America's constitutional democracy is supposed to operate in this century."

via LAObserved


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