United States Inflicts Egregious Physical Abuse On Asylum Seekers During Deportation Flights

The case is filed and pending in the District Court of the District of Columbia.

The plaintiffs in this case are four Cameroonian nationals who came to the United States seeking asylum from persecution by the Cameroonian government. As Human Rights Watch found after an extensive investigation, the plaintiffs were part of a group of asylum seekers from Cameroon who faced high rates of deportation despite credible claims and suffered prolonged detention and mistreatment during detention, transfers, and deportation flights.

Detention center officers pepper sprayed them and threw them in solitary confinement for peacefully protesting racist targeting by guards and denial of medical care. U.S. officials then deported the two men and illegally gave their asylum documents to Cameroonian officials, who imprisoned them as traitors. A 2022 report detailed the experiences of the plaintiffs and others who endured similar abuses.

Why is this a key case?

Black immigrants are especially vulnerable to abuse in immigration detention, as noted with concern by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Black people in immigration detention are more than six times more likely to be locked away in solitary confinement than other racial groups. Black immigrants are also more likely to suffer prolonged and arbitrary immigration detention, including longer periods of detention and lesser likelihood of release on bond or parole than individuals of other races.

How is RFK Human Rights supporting?

RFK Human Rights, alongside the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Texas A&M School of Law Civil Rights Clinic and Immigrant Rights Clinic, represents the plaintiffs in their lawsuit.

Name of the case (as it appears in the respective legal mechanism)

J.K.A. et al. v. United States of America et al.,1:23-cv-02273 (D.D.C. filed Aug. 7, 2023)

Month/Year of filing

August 2023

Legal mechanism in which the case is being litigated

U.S. Federal District Court, District of Columbia

Rights and legal instruments alleged violated (or found to have been violated)

Administrative Procedures Act, Federal Tort Claims Act, and laws of the state of Louisiana and District of Columbia

Procedural stage



Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Center for Constitutional Rights and the Texas A&M School of Law Civil Rights Clinic and Immigrant Rights Clinic