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US sued over immigrant drugging

world Updated: Jun 20, 2007 16:00 IST

IANS
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A civil liberties group in the US has filed a lawsuit against the government for sedating deportees against their will.

"Our constitution does not allow the government to treat immigrants like animals," said Ahilan Arulanantham of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who filed the suit on Tuesday.

The federal suit followed allegations aired in May by the group, which contends that two foreign nationals were injected with medications to make them less agitated when they were deported.

"Injecting people who are not mentally ill with psychotropic drugs is illegal, immoral and medically inappropriate," said an ACLU statement.

The group alleges that Raymond Soeoth, a Christian minister who is an Indonesian citizen, was held down and injected with the anti-psychotic drug Haldol in December 2004 by immigration officials planning to deport him from a detention centre in San Pedro.

A doctor working for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement allegedly prescribed the drug without examining Soeoth.

Another drugged immigrant Amadou Diouf, a Senegalese native married to a US citizen, was deported contrary to a court order.

At Los Angeles International Airport on an airplane bound for Senegal, officials pushed Diouf to the ground and injected him with an unidentified psychotropic drug after he tried to talk to the flight's captain, the ACLU alleged.

Both men were released in February as a result of a separate ACLU lawsuit. They each spent about two years in immigration custody, according to the group.

In addition to seeking a court order barring the alleged drugging, the ACLU's complaint includes a Freedom of Information Act request seeking information on how often forcible drugging occur and under what circumstances.