August 12, 2021

“A Cameroonian asylum-seeker is suing the US government for an alleged assault by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) officers, who he said knelt on his neck and suffocated him to try to force him to accept his own deportation.

In a report filed on Thursday, Acheleke Fuanya said the alleged attack, at a Louisiana prison in January, has left him with persistent back and waist pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He also claims lingering Covid symptoms after the alleged incident in which he says the Ice officers were unmasked in violation of official regulations.

“The officers surrounded Mr Fuanya, tripped him to the ground, and kneeled on his neck, and pulled his head forward in order to suffocate him,” the complaint says. “Other officers yanked his arms and twisted his leg and ankle. Even after Mr Fuanya pleaded with the officers to get off of him because he could not breathe, they continued to choke him until they grabbed his fingers and forcibly fingerprinted him.”

The ICE officers were trying to make him sign a document and appeared to take his fingerprint by force as a substitute for a signature. The exact contents of the document are unknown but in other cases Ice officers have allegedly try to force asylum-seekers to sign waivers of their asylum rights or requests to their home governments for travel documents, which would put a veneer of legality on their deportations.”

Source: The Guardian, “Cameroonian asylum-seeker sues US for alleged assault by Ice officers”, August 2021. <https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/aug/12/cameroonian-asylum-seeker-sues-us-for-alleged-assault-by-ice-officers>

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): ICE

Event Type(s): Denial of Asylum, Inappropriate Deportation, Use of Force

Accountability Status: Lawsuit Filed