UN: US force-feeding immigrants may breach torture agreement

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[Feb. 7, 2019] The United States could be violating the U.N. Convention Against Torture by force-feeding immigrant detainees on a hunger strike inside an El Paso detention facility, the United Nations human rights office said Thursday.

The Geneva-based Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is concerned that force-feeding could constitute “ill treatment” that goes against the convention, which the United States ratified in 1994, spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told The Associated Press.

The U.N.’s statement echoes concerns raised by 14 Democratic lawmakers who sent a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Thursday requesting more information about nine Indian men who are being force-fed through nasal tubes after refusing to eat to protest what they described as unfair treatment.

One of the hunger strikers, a 22-year-old asylum seeker who has not eaten in more than a month, said he was dragged from his cell three times a day and strapped down on a bed as a group of people poured liquid into tubes inserted into his nose.

“It is critical that ICE commit to ending this practice,” said the letter spearheaded by Texas Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar, who toured the El Paso Processing Center and met with the men after AP reported on the force-feeding last week.

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