US immigration agents face problems transiting drugged deportees overseas

[JURIST] US immigration agents transiting involuntarily sedated immigration deportees through foreign countries have been challenged by local authorities, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. The paper said French and Belgian law enforcement officials had raised objections to the sedation of individuals by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] agents at stopovers during two recent deportation flights from the US to Guinea. In one case, Belgian authorities informed US immigration guards accompanying the deportee that the medication of a person against his will was illegal in Belgium, but allowed the deportation to proceed. In a second incident, French officials informed US immigration guards that involuntary injections were illegal in France, and refused to allow the detainee to be sedated during a stopover. The detainee forcefully refused to board the flight from France to Guinea after the sedatives wore off, the captain of the plane refused to allow the detainee to board, and the deportee was returned to the US. Reuters has more.

The report highlights the tension between US deportation practices and international laws [PDF text] regarding involuntary medication and sedation, an issue of increasing importance in recent months. In February, ICE reached a settlement [JURIST report] in a federal class action suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California(ACLU/SC) [advocacy website] on behalf of two immigrants who were forcibly sedated [JURIST report] during deportation flights. In January, the agency released a memo requiring its officers to obtain a judge's approval [JURIST report] before a deportee can be sedated in order to facilitate his or her removal from the US.

 

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