Human Rights Watch and the ACLU of Southern California in a letter sent yesterday called upon the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security to promptly, thoroughly and independently investigate the death of Victor (Victoria) Arellano, a transgender detainee with HIV/AIDS, in ICE custody in July 2007.

The letter notes that many of the key witnesses to the events surrounding Arellano’s death were suddenly transferred from the San Pedro Service Processing Center, where Arellano was detained before her death, to ICE facilities all over the country. Human Rights Watch urges the inspector general to investigate why and how these transfers took place to establish whether they could have been effected in retaliation for contact the witnesses had with the media and human rights groups about the death, or deliberately undertaken in order to impede the ongoing inquiries into the adequacy of the medical care provided to Arellano.