BY Fredrick Ngugi, 11:52am December 21, 2017,

US judge stops deportation of Somali migrants following abuse claims

Somali migrants deported from the U.S. Photo credit: VOA News

A judge in Florida, U.S. has halted the deportation of 92 Somali migrants after their lawyers filed a case against U.S. immigration authorities for allegedly abusing them. In the lawsuit, the migrants claim they were physically abused by U.S. authorities, who had shackled them on a plane for close to two days.

The deportees, both men and women, were reportedly detained on an airplane during the botched attempt to deport them to Somalia on December 7 when the plane they were travelling on stalled in Dakar, Senegal, for 23 hours before returning to the U.S. with all 92 immigrants.

“Various logistical options were explored, and ultimately ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] decided to reschedule the mission to Somalia and return to the United States with all 92 detainees,” ICE was quoted by the Guardian.

Risk of Persecution

The U.S. government was planning to deport the Somalis on Wednesday morning when the U.S. Federal District judge Darrin Gayles issued an order halting their deportation for at least two weeks.

Judge Gayles also ordered the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and ICE to ensure all migrants who may have been injured during the botched deportation get “adequate medical treatment” and reasonable legal representation. The order remains valid until January 2 at midnight.

For many years since the ongoing civil war in Somalia broke out, the U.S. has always avoided sending immigrants back to Somalia fearing that they might be victimized. But since the current U.S. government came in late last year, the number of deportations to Somalia has increased dramatically, raising questions over the safety of deportees.

According to Rebecca Sharpless, the lead attorney in the lawsuit, the immigrants, some of whom have lived in the U.S. for decades, face immense danger of persecution in Somalia due to the increasing media attention on their plight.

Their deportation comes less than two months after the Somali-based Islamic terror group al-Shaabab killed more than 500 people in a massive bomb attack in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.

Last Edited by:Ismail Akwei Updated: June 19, 2018

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