Immigration Authorities End Torture-by-Dogs of Detainees in U.S. Jails
NJ Civil Rights Defense Committee Press Release
For Release Dec. 6, 2004
Press conference to be held
Monday, Dec. 6
Rutger?s Newark Campus
Hill Hall (Room 208)
To get to Room 208, please go up the ramp from the second floor of Hill Hall.
Hill Hall is at the corner of MLK Jr. Blvd. and Warren St., next to the Student
Representatives of immigrants rights and civil rights groups, including NJ Civil Rights Defense Committee, Casa Freehold, Council on American Islamic Relations-NJ, and others will describe how this victory was achieved and the broader context of the struggle for immigrant rights.
The representatives of the groups and detainee family members will explain what has been won so far and the much greater tasks that still must be accomplished to defend the civil rights of all who live in this country.
The immigrant rights? movement won a significant victory when the Dept. Of Homeland
Security?s Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm directed that all jails in the US
holding immigrant detainees cease to use dogs around the detainees.
effective Dec. 11, was a response to a report on National Public Radio documenting
the use of the dogs to terrify and physically attack detainees. Officials at Passaic
County Jail, one of several facilities that used the dogs, stated that they had
already removed the dogs from the jail, an action confirmed by detainees.
The NPR report was the result of an 18-month-long campaign by immigrant rights and
civil rights groups to expose the use of dogs to torture immigrant detainees.
The canine abuse was first reported to the press by NJ Civil Rights Defense
Committee (NJCRDC) in a press conference July 18, 2003. The conference was held in
connection with a hunger strike by Nigel Macado and Hemnauth Mohabir, one of the
detainees interviewed in the NPR report last week. Since then, NJCRDC, Families for
Freedom and other immigrant rights organizations have been vigorously exposing dog
attacks. The groups arranged detainee interviews for the NPR story.
This effort has
been part of a general campaign to win the release of all the detainees, who are
being held unconstitutionally without any criminal charges
?This victory is a step forward,? said NJCRDC member Jeannette Gabriel, ?but it puts
an end to only one type of detainee abuse. The worst abuse is to hold them at all,
as they are not charged with any crimes.? Detainees are held by the Department of
Homeland Security as ?civil? detentions under laws passed in 1996 and vigorously
enforced since September, 2001.
The end of the torture-by-dog is one of the limited but important victories which
the growing immigrant rights movement has won in the past year. In Freehold, New
Jersey, a coalition of immigrants and citizens united in Casa Freehold and other
organizations defeated an attempt by the Township government to shut down a muster
zone for immigrant day-laborers. With the support of this coalition, the
day?laborers were able to organize a hiring-hall-type of system, ending competition
among the laborers and enforcing minimum labor standards on contractors. When
police harassment drove the contractors away, NJCRDC and Casa Freehold, joined by
other immigrant rights and peace groups, organized a march in Freehold in July which
succeeded in countering the harassment.
This new civil rights fight is just beginning. Thousands of detainees remain
unconstitutionally incarcerated and immigrant communities are under attack. The
detainee featured in NPR?s report for being deliberately subjected to a dog bite,
Rosendo Lewis, and another detainee, Abdoulie Secka, have just finished a nine-day
hunger strike at Passaic County jail to demand their freedom. They report being subjected to threats by ICE officials to move them to other detention facilities
thousands of miles from their families. The dogs are gone, but the violations of
human rights remain and only continued exposure and protest will stop them.
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