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Statement on the death incident of the detainee in the Immigration Center and re-detention

On June 24, 2019, a Nigerian man in his 40s, the father of a child with Japanese nationality, who had been detained for three years and seven months at the Omura Immigration Center, and had been on a hunger strike in protest of his prolonged detainment, became unconscious and died after he was transported to a hospital. Including this case, the number of inmates who have died at immigration facilities since 2007 has now reached fourteen. 

Under such circumstances, two foreign nationals, who had been detained for two years and eight months and two years and five months respectively and had also staged hunger strikes to the extent that their body weight had remarkably reduced, were provisionally released. However, two weeks later on July 22 this year, when they appeared at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau to extend the term of their provisional release, they were again detained as their request to extend the period was denied. Since then, those who were provisionally released under similar circumstances have been detained again after two-week periods.

The JFBA has repeatedly requested the provisional releases of persons in need of hospital visits and hospitalization, thorough investigation and publication of the incidents leading to the cause of death, the formulation of concrete measures to prevent recurrence, and the establishment of a proper medical system. However, the situation surrounding detention is deteriorating.

With regard to detention in deportation cases, the JFBA has demanded that, from the perspective of prohibiting arbitrary detention under Article 34 of the Constitution and Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and prohibiting inhuman treatment under Article 16 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the detention itself be executed only when absolutely necessary for ensuring deportation, and that detention should not be executed in cases where it is either unnecessary or inappropriate. At the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018, an international agreement for the protection of immigrants called the “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” was adopted (Japan was also in favor). It requires each government ensure that detention is non-arbitrary, carried out for the shortest period of time based on necessity, proportionality and individual assessment, and used only as a measure of last resort. As mentioned above, it is highly regrettable that a death has occurred again, and that persons who have been detained for a long period of time have been detained again only two weeks after being released provisionally. Therefore, the JFBA again strongly urges authorities to conduct a thorough and prompt investigation of the above-mentioned death incident by a third-party organization such as the Immigration Detention Center Visiting Committee, publicize the investigation report, and immediately take concrete and effective measures to prevent recurrences.

Moreover, the JFBA strongly requests the provisional release of those who have been re-detained, including those who were re-detained two weeks after receiving the provisional release, and also requests that relevant authorities will strictly determine the necessity and appropriateness when re-detaining those who have been given provisional release, and not to re-detain unless they are granted.

August 8, 2019
Yutaro Kikuchi
Japan Federation of Bar Associations

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