Rights groups have filed complaints against a migrant detention center in the US, alleging medical neglect and lack of Kovid-19 security measures.
This complaint condemns the practices and conditions at the private Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia.
It is based on allegations of a whistleblower, identified by a nurse as Don Wootton.
She worked at the center, which is a detained home by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
As part of her complaint filed on Monday, Ms. Wootton expressed concern about the high number of hysterectomies performed on Spanish-speaking women at the center.
The nurse said the detained women told her they did not fully understand why they had to have a hysterectomy – an operation that involved removing all or parts of the uterus.
The complaint also accuses him of “jerking medical neglect” during a coronovirus epidemic, including refusal to test detainees with symptoms, and creating medical records.
- Detention center in immigration crisis
Project South, Georgia Detection Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights and South Georgia Immigrant Support Network filed complaints on behalf of detained migrants and Ms. Wootton.
The complaint has been filed with the watchdog overseeing the Homeland Security Department (DHS), which is responsible for the ICE.
In statements released on Monday, the ICE said it was taking the allegations seriously and was “strongly committed to the safety and welfare of all those in custody”.
The agency told the Associated Press that “anonymous, unproven allegations made without any fact-checkable nuances should be treated with the appropriate skepticism they are entitled to”.
In response to allegations about Kovid-19 security, the ICE told the AJC News website, “ICE epidemiologists have been tracking the outbreak, regularly updating infection prevention and control protocols, and screening and ICE Health Services (IHSC) is issuing guidance for employees. Managing potential contact between detainees. ”
The BBC has contacted ICE and LaSalle Corrections, a private company that runs the Irwin County Detention Center, for comment.
What does the complaint allege?
Project South said the complaint alleges the accounts of “detained immigrants and Ms. Wootton for deliberate lack of medical care, unsafe work practices and lack of adequate protection against Kovid-19”.
It summarizes Ms. Wooten’s revelations made in the watchdog of DHS, and cites unknown detainees extensively.
Kovid-19 complaints included employees refusing to test symptomatic detainees, failing to isolate suspected cases, and not encouraging social-behavioral practices.
The complaint states that the “rate at which hysterectomy has occurred” at the center was a “red flag” for Ms. Watten and other nurses.
She accused a doctor of “everyone sees that she has a hysterectomy”, and that she removed the wrong ovary from a young prisoner.
Ms. Wootton said in the complaint, “We have questioned each other, goodness is taking away everyone’s stuff … that’s his specialty, he’s the uterus collector.”
Interviewed by a captive, Project South, compared the center to “an experimental concentration camp”, adding: “It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies.”
Other charges include delay in medical care of detained immigrants. Ms Wootton alleged that “it was common for sick call nurses to snatch medical request forms from detained immigrants”.
The complaint also included allegations of asymmetrical circumstances at the center’s medical unit. In another letter, another immigrant described the medical unit as being “inundated with animals such as ants and insects with only a bed, toilet and sink”.
Azad Shahshahani, a human rights lawyer from Project South, called DHS to investigate the allegations immediately.
“Over the years, advocates in Georgia have raised red flags about human rights violations occurring inside the Irwin County Detention Center,” he said. “The revelations of Ms. Wootton’s whistleblowing confirm that detained immigrants have been reporting for years.”