Statement to Request Thorough Deliberations of a Bill to Revise the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act
A bill to revise the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act aiming to prevent terrorism, etc. cleared the House of Representatives, and is now under debate in the House of Councilors.
Although the Japan Federation of Bar Associations shares the view that taking measures to prevent terrorism is an issue for each country, human rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Japan and international human rights law should not be neglected even with the purpose to prevent terrorism. The JFBA believes that one of the effective measures to prevent terrorism is to create a stable society through protection of human rights of the minority including foreign nationals as the JFBA mentioned in its opinion paper presented on December 15, 2005.
This bill obliges all foreign nationals entering Japan, except for those who have a special permanent residency status or are under the age of 16, to provide personally identifying information, in particular, fingerprint information. This violates the foreigners' right to privacy and conflicts with Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights forbidding degrading treatment of any person.
The bill also aims to store the obtained biometric information and create a database in order to use it for criminal investigations and subsequent foreign residence control. This violates the foreigners' right to control personal information and may cause prejudice as if foreign nationals as a whole were a dangerous group. Even a ruling party member voiced in Diet deliberations that the biological information obtained at the entrance of foreign nationals should be immediately erased once immigration checks are completed as it has already fulfilled the objective of preventing terrorism.
In addition, "automatic gates", whose aim is allegedly to accelerate immigration examination with the use of provided fingerprint information are going to be introduced. In Diet deliberations, it has appeared that this system expects to include the Japanese nationals and persons with a special permanent residency status, and the biological information obtained by this system could be also used for criminal investigations and other purposes. The persons who provide their biological information to use the automatic gates do not expect that the information could be used for other purposes. Furthermore, the JFBA is concerned that all passengers would be forced to use the automatic gates in the future and controlling the fingerprint information might lead to a surveillance society.
Moreover, the bill adds reasons for deportation and enables to deport a person who is determined by the Minister of Justice as having enough reason to be suspected of being likely to engage in criminal acts defined by a law to block terrorist financing, preparatory acts for the criminal acts, or acts which allow the criminal acts to be carried out easier. This could have potentially serious consequences for the foreign nationals who are settling in Japan. It might take away the foundation of their life. However, in Diet deliberations, it has emerged that requirements for determination of terrorists are extremely ambiguous and broad, concrete circumstances and grounds why the person is suspected of being involved in terrorism will not be presented in the procedures of deportation, and not enough opportunities to appeal are systematically guaranteed.
Through Diet deliberations, it is becoming apparent that this bill contains many problems and will greatly affect our life. The JFBA opposes voting on the bill as it is and requests to conduct further thorough deliberations.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
May 15, 2006