Condition of detention in Japan


Conditions of detention. Immigration detention facilities are reputedly prison-like, including the widespread use of cells to confine detainees. Human rights groups have reported numerous abuses at detention facilities over the years, including physical, verbal, and sexual abuse; substandard detention conditions, overcrowding and poor sanitation; denial of access to medical services and insufficient opportunity to undertake physical exercise; and excessive restrictions on detainee’s ability to communicate with family members and legal representation (Amnesty International 2002; Human Rights Watch 2000; Dean 2006; CAT Network Japan 2007; Japan Federation of Bar Associations 2007;AAR 2010).
The conditions of detention vary. Some facilities have two-person cells, other have rooms that accommodate up to eight people. In the Higashi Nihon Detention centre, meetings between detainees who are in different blocks are limited as a result of changes made after repeated hunger strikes in 2010. Detainees in different blocks can meet each other in only special occasions. On the other hand, there are some facilities, such as Narita immigration bureau, that allow married couples to spend time together, even if they are in different blocks. However, those measures are taken only at the discretion of the director of detention facility (Shoji 2012).
Detainees generally have access to common rooms, recreational grounds, and laundry facilities (Shoji 2012). The length of time detainees can walk freely around specified areas of facilities varies. Detention centres, which are designed for long-term detention, allow between 5-7 hours per day. On the other hand, there is no such at 10 detention houses in immigration offices due to “structures of facilities” (Immigration Bureau 2012). In an email message to the Global Detention Project, the Refugee coordinator of Amnesty International Japan said that because detention houses are located inside local immigration branch offices, they are usually small and in some cases do not have required facilities such as exercise areas and public phones (Yagishita 2007).
Also, there have been reports of detainees spending long periods of time in isolation as a disciplinary measure. Immigration centres have isolation rooms to seclude detainees in order to “protect the life and body of the detainees and to maintain order within the facility” (Commission against Torture 2007). According to one report, there have been “several cases” in which these types of rooms have been “the locality for the abusive treatment of detainees” (CAT Network Japan 2007). There have also been complaints regarding the discretionary authority given to the director of immigration centres to decide the period of isolation, which in one case led to an unsuitably long isolation period (Japan Federation of Bar Associations 2007). In 2011, 171 male and seven female detainees were confined in isolation facilities. The longest time in isolation during this period was 13 days (Immigration Bureau 2012)and more than eight months for a Ugandan asylum seeker.
Detainees in the immigration centres have the right to communicate with the outside world and receive visits (Immigration Bureau). Visitors, such as NGOs, family members, supporters, and lawyers, can meet detainees for up to 30 minutes (Shoji 2012). It has been reported that letters from detainees are censored (Committee against Torture 2007) and telephone calls are limited (CAT Network Japan 2007).
According to the few reports available about airport facilities, conditions tend to be severe at them. They are sometimes overcrowded and lack windows and exercise spaces. Moreover, communications are restricted and there is a limited access to medical care (Japan Federation of Bar Associations 2007). According to Amnesty International Japan, there have been cases these facilities refuse to allow NGOs to contact detainees in, sometimes by claiming “there is no such person in the facility.” These

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  1. Pingback: In Japan, Disaster and a Radio Show Put Refugees On the Agenda · Global Voices

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