Tuesday, August 31, 2010

U.S: Undocumented Immigrants face sexual abuse in detention facilities

Last week, a news release by Human Rights Watch, revealed that in the U.S., undocumented immigrants face sexual abuse, harassment and assault in detention facilities. The immigration debate in many countries, including the U.S., has taken a negative tone, but should illegal immigrants in detention be left at the mercy of guards who sexually abuse, assault and harass women in detention facilities?

According to Human Rights Watch, in May 2010, a guard at the T. Don Hutto immigration facility in Texas allegedly "groped women" in detention. It is worth mentioning that this alleged sexual abuse of women at the T. Don Hutto immigration facility in not the only reported incident.

In 2008, five undocumented immigrants - women - were assaulted by a guard, in their rooms at the Port Isabel Service Processing Center in Texas.

You might be tempted to think that undocumented immigrants in detention face sexual abuse only in detention facilities in Texas because the aforementioned cases occurred in Texas, but reports of sexual abuse, harassment and assault have been documented in detention facilities in many states - New York, Washington State, New Jersey, Wisconsin, California, and Arizona.

It is true that the frequency of sexual abuse of undocumented immigrants in detention in the U.S. cannot be measured because many cases go unreported, since many victims are deported while abusive guards, more often than not, go unpunished and ready to take on the next victim.

You would agree that undocumented immigrants, by virtue of being human, have inherent rights, and should not be left at the mercy of guards in detention facilities. Undocumented immigrants are a vulnerable group of people who should be fully protected by the State. More importantly, perpetrators of sexual abuse in detention facilities should be brought to justice! Impunity sends a wrong message to perpetrators and victims of sexual abuse.

In a recent report published on August 25, 2010, Human Rights Watch sheds light on reported incidents, as well as allegations of sexual abuse in immigration detention centres in the U.S. The rights group also makes recommendations on how the issue could be addressed.

It remains to be seen whether the U.S. Department of Homeland SecurityImmigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Congress will make a moves in the right direction, based on recommendations by Human Rights Watch - to end sexual abuse, assault and harassment of undocumented immigrants in immigration detention facilities. 


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