<COVID-19>Statement Calling for the elimination of the risk of “Three C’s” (closed spaces, crowded places, close-contact settings) at immigration detention facilities.
Following the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Japanese government issued the “Declaration of a State of Emergency in response to the Novel Coronavirus” on April 7, 2020. It is needless to say that, in order to prevent the further spread of the disease, it is now even more necessary to avoid the so-called “Three C’s” (closed spaces, crowded places, close-contact settings) (for reference, please see the “Basic Policies for Novel Coronavirus Disease Control”).
The immigration Detention Facilities (the two national Immigration Centers and the Detention Houses of Regional Immigration Service Agencies), however, packs a large number of detainees into “closed” multi-person rooms under both “crowded” and “close-contact” settings, so it is highly likely that even a single infected detainee could soon lead to a “cluster” of infected people among the same and neighboring rooms.
Furthermore, as the JFBA has repeatedly pointed out, recently the period of detention in these Immigration Detention Facilities has been getting longer and, not an insignificant number of long-term detainees suffering from basic illnesses currently receive insufficient medical treatment. Under such conditions, it is concerning that once a detainee becomes infected, his/her condition could seriously deteriorate, even to the extent that it poses a risk to his/her life.
Regarding this point, the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights and other international organizations issued a joint press release on March 31, 2020 which called for the release without delay and provision of access to appropriate health care for refugees and migrants who are physically detained at detention facilities in light of the fact that the spread of novel coronavirus disease may lead to fatal consequences.
In consideration of the above points, we strongly request that both the Minister of Justice and the Commissioner of Immigration Service Agency promptly address the following two points:
1. Those who can be released for the reason that he/she will have a secured address provided or other reasons should be promptly implemented by utilizing current systems to the maximum extent, such as Special Permission to Stay, Special Release, Provisional Release and Permission for Provisional Stay, among other measures, so as to greatly reduce the risk of a possible cluster infection of the novel coronavirus.
For detainees who must continue to be detained for the time being, effective measures should be taken to minimize potential risks of in-facility infection and an appropriate medical care system should be put in place in case of infection.
April 15, 2020
Japan Federation of Bar Associations