Tokyo Bar Association

Chairman's Statement Protesting Long-Term and Illegal Re-Detention of Foreigners and the Trampling of Human Dignity


July 31, 2019
Chikara Shinozuka,
Chairman of Tokyo Bar Association

Recently, there have been a series of hunger strikes nationwide by detainees at detention facilities operated by the Immigration Services Agency. Detainees have been cornered to the point where they have no choice but to risk their lives to protest against endless long-term detention.
Indeed, the adverse effects on life and body experienced by the detainees on hunger strike, such as a sharp decrease in weight, are serious. On June 24 of this year, one of the detainees, a Nigerian man in his 40s, died at the Omura Immigration Center (Omura City, Nagasaki Prefecture). There are reports that he died of symptoms associated with anorexia after a hunger strike.
The Tokyo Bar Association President issued a statement on July 1 this year, soon after the detainee's death, calling for the immediate stop of unnecessary detention. However, the situation has not improved at all.

Later, on July 9 of this year, two people who were on a hunger strike at the East Japan Immigration Center (Ushiku City, Ibaraki Prefecture) were allowed provisional release. However, on July 22, only two weeks after their release, they appeared at the Tokyo Immigration Bureau in response to a summons. The Bureau did not permit the provisional release extension, which would normally be allowed, and it re-detained these two people.
This rejection of an extension of provisional release is too inhumane. It demonstrates that, in a case where a detainee protests against their detention by hunger strike, even if he or she were released provisionally, he or she would be re-detained in just two weeks.
Detention by deportation order is permitted only for the preparation of the deportation. It is neither a punishment, a preventive detention, nor a warning to the other detainees. It defeats the purpose and is illegal to detain foreigners who are not scheduled to be deported or who apply for refugee status, the deportation of whom is prohibited by law.
As stated by the Tokyo Bar Association in the "Opinion Request for Amendments to the Provisions Relating to the Detention of the Immigration and Refugee Recognition Act" of March 5 this year, there are constitutional uncertainties in the current immigration administration in Japan, as described above. The United Nations often requests improvement, so it is not permissible to leave this administration unimproved from an international perspective.

We can never sit back when the freedom and human dignity of foreigners are being violated.
We strongly protest against re-detention as detailed above and urge the Immigration Services Agency of Japan to drastically improve the operation of the detention of foreigners and immediately put a stop to detainment that tramples on human dignity.