Filipino activists sue DHS, CBP on behalf of detained human rights defender Jerome Aba

SAN FRANCISCO — Filipino American activists staged a protest at the arrivals terminal of the San Francisco International Airport on Wednesday night.

This was the same airport where Muslim Filipino human rights defender Jerome Aba was detained for over 24 hours by U.S. Customs and Border Protection from April 17 – 19, 2018.

Aba claimed he was physically and psychologically tortured by CBP.

The CBP denied these allegations.

But the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – NorCal and BAYAN USA, along with the National Lawyers Guild, want to get all documents pertaining to Aba’s detention.

“We first actually filed a Freedom of Information request in April of 2018. We followed that up with another request on May 28th. And since that time, we have only gotten three documents from DHS, and those documents were heavily redacted.”
And so they filed a lawsuit against CBP and the Department of Homeland Security to get all documentation from the incident.

Following Aba’s claims of maltreatment and torture by the CBP last year, the CBP not only denied the abuse, officials even allowed the media a tour of its detention facilities at SFO.

But these activists said they want full disclosure of what happened to Aba.

“We know that his 28 hours held in detention here at SFO were harrowing, and really uncomfortable and upsetting. And so there’s a cover-up happening. They don’t want to release the records to us because it implicates them in some crimes against humanity.”

Prior to his April 2018 detention at SFO, Aba was invited by various church organizations to go on a speaking tour around the U.S., and meet with various Fil-Am communities to discuss alleged human rights violations in the Philippines.

Activists said his detention was an attempt to silence Aba.

“We see it as collusion between the U.S. government and the Duterte government, to deny entry to people who are just coming here to tell the truth.”

The National Lawyers Guild said that the release of documents on Aba’s detention will expose what they call an unfair immigration process.

“We hope to get a picture of actually, what this increased vetting is actually involved in and what are the reasons for it? We want to see what’s the relationship between the government of the United States and the government of the Philippines? Why was this man this young man, 24-years-old, detained when he had already obtained a 10-year multi-issue visa? It didn’t make any sense to us.”

ABS-CBN News has reached out the CBP and DHS to comment on this lawsuit.

They have yet to respond.

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