Friday, February 5, 2021

Exclusive: Ice cancels deportation flight to Africa after claims of brutality

US immigration and customs enforcement (Ice) canceled a deportation flight to west Africa because of allegations of brutality by Ice agents in the treatment of the deportees, the agency has said in a statement.

The Guardian

The statement emailed to the Guardian and the cancellation of the deportation flight, so that would-be deportees can be interviewed as witnesses, marks a dramatic change in tone by the agency, which has hitherto deflected and denied earlier allegations of human rights abuse. 

The change suggests that the newly confirmed secretary for homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, may have begun to exert control over what some critics have described as a “rogue agency”.

A plane carrying Cameroonian, Angolan and Congolese asylum seekers was due to take off from Alexandria, Louisiana, at 3pm on Wednesday but was canceled with minutes to spare.

Two days before the flight, a coalition of immigration advocacy groups published affidavits by Cameroonian detainees saying they had been assaulted by Ice officers and forced to put their fingerprints on documents authorising their own deportation to a country where they believed they risked prison, torture or extrajudicial killing.

There have been multiple reports that Cameroonians deported by the Trump administration in October and November have been jailed, tortured or disappeared by a government fighting a counter insurgency in the west and south of the country.

Ice was accused of similar abuse in october but denied the claims and did not change its policy of accelerated deportation of African and Caribbean asylum seekers. On Thursday, an Ice spokesperson signalled a change in stance.

 change in stance.

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