Amnesty International: U.S. Immigrant Detentions Violate Human Rights

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"2683","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignright wp-image-5362 size-medium","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"300","height":"200","title":"Photo: barbed wire against the sky","alt":""}}]]The detention of over 300,000 immigrants a year in the United States represents a violation of international human rights, according to Amnesty International's new report "Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention in the USA." The organization reports on detention conditions that violate both U.S. and international standards for the treatment of detainees, including housing immigrant with individual convicted of criminal offenses, excessive use of restraints, and inadequate access to health care and mental health service. Under international human rights standards, detention should be used as a last, not a first resort, and should be subject to an individualized case-by-case determination by an independent judicial authority. However, the report identifies numerous instances in which immigrants have been detained for months and even years without any meaningful review of their cases.

Key recommendations of the report include the following:

  1. The US Congress should pass legislation creating a presumption against the detention of immigrants and asylum seekers and ensuring that it be used as a measure of last resort;
  2. The US government should ensure that alternative non-custodial measures, such as reporting requirements or an affordable bond, are always explicitly considered before resorting to detention. Reporting requirements should not be unduly onerous, invasive or difficult to comply with, especially for families with children and those of limited financial means. Conditions of release should be subject to judicial review.
  3. The US Congress should pass legislation to ensure that all immigrants and asylum seekers have access to individualized hearings on the lawfulness, necessity, and appropriateness of detention.
  4. The US government should ensure the adoption of enforceable human rights detention standards in all detention facilities that house immigration detainees, either through legislation or through the adoption of enforceable policies and procedures by the Department of Homeland Security. There should be effective independent oversight to ensure compliance with detention standards and accountability for any violations.

Click here for a copy of the full report.