LOS ANGELES - The ACLU of Southern California has learned that two immigrants were forcibly sedated by the U.S. government. Raymond Soeoth and Amadou Diouf, clients in an earlier ACLU/SC lawsuit, revealed that they had each been drugged involuntarily during attempts to deport them. The ACLU/SC is aggressively investigating the practice with the pro-bono assistance of the law firm Munger, Tolles, and Olson LLP.

Diouf was under court protection from deportation when officers put him on an airplane for return to his native Senegal. When he attempted to protest to the flight captain, he was sedated against his will.

Soeoth, a Christian minister from Indonesia, was drugged by guards even after he explained he did not want to be sedated.

Neither man was deported, and both were released in February after approximately two years in a federal facility in San Pedro. The ACLU/SC has won the release of more than a dozen people held indefinitely in violation of federal rules.

'These druggings were medically unnecessary, immoral, and dangerous,' said ACLU/SC staff attorney Ahilan Arulanantham, who represents Diouf and Soeoth. 'Officers sedated these perfectly sane men, apparently just to silence them. The routine nature of these actions raises serious questions about how common this practice is.'

An article published today in the Daily Journal documents the men's experiences. The reporter learned about the druggings during interviews with Diouf and Soeoth for an earlier story.

Medical experts consulted by the ACLU/SC say the drugs used on Soeoth, Haldol and Cogentin, are used to treat psychosis and should not have been prescribed for someone with no history of mental illness. A federal policy prohibits medication of detainees 'solely to facilitate transport, unless a medical professional determines that they present a danger to themselves or to others.'

Arulanantham called that a loose medical standard that is open to abuse. 'It is frightening that the government is using anti-psychotic drugs on immigrants who have no history of mental illness,' he said.