JOHANNESBURG – Ninety-two Somalis sat bound and shackled in a plane for almost two days, a few ponds, during a failed U.S. deportation attempt, a class-action lawsuit filed in the United States says.
The US immigration agents kicked, beaten, choked and dragged prisoners” during the trip, which began Dec. 7, the lawsuit was filed in U. S. District Court in Miami says. Some of the Somalis were in straitjackets.
The flight to Somalia from Louisiana reached Dakar, Senegal, to sit on the runway for 23 hours and return to the US, because the relief of the crew was not equipped enough, the lawsuit says.
Lawyers are afraid that the US is the return of a growing number of people to a country that for a long time a war zone. “It is not safe for these men and women to return, especially in light of the escalation of terrorist violence in Somalia in the last few weeks,” said Rebecca Sullivan, director of the immigration clinic at the University of Miami School of Law, who filed the lawsuit.
The Somalia-based al-Shabab extremist group was blamed for the huge truck bombing in the capital Mogadishu, which killed 512 in October. Only a few attacks since 9/11 have killed more people. Al-Shabab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa and the target of more than 30 AMERICAN air strikes under the Trump administration, keeps large parts of rural southern and central Somalia.
The end of the year report of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says 521 Somalis were deported this year increased substantially, from 198 last year. Somalia by far saw the largest number of citizens were deported home of African nations.
“It was not until the end of 2016 and 2017 that ICE was found for the first time, and then the removal of Somalis in greater numbers with the help of charter flights,” the lawsuit says.
ICE does not respond to pending lawsuits and has denied mistreating the Somalis on the failed deportation flight this month. It has also said more than 60 of the Somalis had criminal convictions.
The lawsuit says the U.S. immigration law prohibits sending people home to countries where they could face persecution or torture, and that al-Shabab is known for the purpose of being returned to Somalia from the USA
On Tuesday, a U. S. District judge ruled that the ICE cannot remove the Somalis and set a hearing for Jan. 2, the Miami Herald reported. The Somalis are held in two centres in the South of Florida.