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Mexico requests info from U.S. on alleged abuse inside migrant detention centres

Detainees sit and wait for their turn at the medical clinic at the Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, La., Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. Nearly 1,500 migrants are detained at Winn.
Detainees sit and wait for their turn at the medical clinic at the Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, La., Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. Nearly 1,500 migrants are detained at Winn. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Mexico said on Wednesday said it had formally requested a report from U.S. authorities regarding alleged negligent practices in U.S. immigration detention centers, citing accusations of sexual abuse and unauthorized hysterectomies.

The request comes after a complaint by a whistleblower nurse alleging that detainees in a Georgia immigration detention facility had improperly received hysterectomies and other gynecological procedures.

The complaint did not specify the nationality of the affected detainees.

Read more: Democrats to investigate claims Georgia migrant detention centre forcibly sterilizing women

In a separate case, the Mexican ministry said its consulate in El Paso, Texas was in contact with a Mexican woman and her lawyer after an allegation of sexual abuse by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

It did not give more details.

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In August, ProPublica and The Texas Tribune reported allegations of a guard sexually abusing detainees including a Mexican woman at an El Paso immigration detention center. ICE at the time said the accusations would be investigated.

The ministry said both consulates were seeking clarity from U.S. authorities and trying to identify any affected Mexicans.

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It said Mexico had activated consular protection mechanisms and that consular personnel had increased attention at the detention centers to ensure rights were respected, the ministry said.

“The government of Mexico will promptly follow up through its various diplomatic and legal instruments to fully understand what happened,” the ministry said in a statement.

ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The nurse’s allegations of improper medical procedures on detainees at the Irwin County Detention Center were filed on Monday to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General by advocacy groups Project South and the Government Accountability Project.

Reuters interviewed Wooten but could not independently confirm the claims of improper hysterectomies, or surgery to remove the uterus.

ICE on Monday denied the allegations.

(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Michael Perry)