Chairman's Statement Calling on the Expert Committee on Detention and Deportation to Have a Radical Discussion from the Perspective of Protecting Human Rights
October 31, 2019
Chairman of Tokyo Bar Association
1 On September 19, 2019, the Immigration Service Agency announced that it would establish an Expert Committee on Detention and Deportation (hereinafter referred to as "Expert Committee") in the Discussion Group on Immigration Policy.
The agenda of the Expert Committee is to discuss "measures to prevent an increase in the number of deportation evaders and prolonged detentions," and its goal is to make a final report to the Discussion Group on Immigration Policy by March of next year.
2 Recently, prolonged detention of foreigners without regular residential status has become extremely serious.
As of the end of June this year, 301 out of the 316 detainees in the East Japan Immigration Center were detained for more than six months, 279 of whom were detained for more than a year.
Similarly, out of the 128 detainees in the Omura Immigration Center, 110 detainees have been detained for more than six months, of whom 92 have been detained for more than a year.
These numbers also include a large number of detainees who have been detained for more than two or three years.
Although detention with a deportation order is permitted only for the purpose of preparing for deportation, foreigners who are not scheduled to be deported or refugee applicants, whose deportation is legally prohibited, are still detained. Moreover, the detention periods are extremely prolonged. An immigration administration such as this should not be accepted.
The Tokyo Bar Association has repeatedly protested against the Immigration Service Agency's inhuman treatment of detainees and demanded an improvement to the conditions, which have led to detainee deaths.
Therefore, we welcome the establishment of the Expert Committee and the discussions that will be initiated and hope that a solution to prolonged detentions will be seriously considered by the Expert Committee.
3 However, as a solution to prolonged detention, the Minister of Justice has given instructions to restrict the qualifications of the guarantors for provisional release and to revise the setting of the deposit amount.
The instruction promotes prolonged detentions and contradicts the recommended direction.
The best solution to prolonged detention is to set an upper limit on the detention period.
In fact, UN agencies have repeatedly recommended that the Japanese government set an upper limit on the period of detention. Given that it is common for other developed countries to set a limit on the period of detention, the instruction of the Minister of Justice is unacceptable.
Additionally, the Minister of Justice has stated that he does not envisage the expansion of special permissions to remain in Japan as a solution to prolonged detention.
4 Consequently, although the Minister of Justice has asked the Expert Committee to consider a solution to prolonged detention, the Minister of Justice's instructions and conclusions are extremely disrespectful to the Expert Committee.
The Expert Committee is entrusted to conduct its own extensive discussions and make recommendations - including the need for legal development - from the perspective of human rights security, based on international human rights values, without the conclusions made by the Minister of Justice and other agencies.
In order to ensure the transparency of the discussions, it is also necessary to disclose the records of proceedings and meetings.