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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 March 13 - 19  > Turning ambulance back, immigration center refuses to carry detainee to hospital
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2019 March 13 - 19 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Turning ambulance back, immigration center refuses to carry detainee to hospital

March 14, 2019

The Tokyo regional immigration center on March 12 turned an ambulance back twice at night to not allow a long-detained Kurdish individual, who became sick, to have access to medical care based on the judgement of the center's chief.

Cholak Mehmet, who is in his 30s, has been interned at the Tokyo detention center for about 14 months. On the morning of March 12, he complained of breathing difficulties while meeting with visiting family members. Later, his condition became worse. The family repeatedly asked the authority to check on him again to confirm his safety, but in vain. At night, an ambulance came twice but the facility refused to let in emergency medical workers.

Following an SOS from his family, up to 60 friends and supporters gathered in front of the center, seeking help from Dietmembers. Soon, Upper House lawmaker of the Japanese Communist Party Koike Akira and several other opposition party legislators directly told the director of the Justice Ministry's enforcement division to do something. The man on the afternoon of March 13 was finally transported to a hospital.

Koike said, "This is an issue of human rights. Japan is internationally questioned," demanding an appropriate response to prevent a recurrence.

Then, at a meeting (Mar.13) of the Lower House Judicial Affairs Committee, JCP Fujino Yasufumi asked, "Who decided to refuse to have paramedics give an examination?"

Sasaki Seiko, the director in charge of the immigration bureau, answered that it was in effect the head of the Tokyo regional immigration center. At the same time, the director said, "But if an inmate consults a facility doctor, the facility may ask emergency crew to leave."

Article 30 of the regulations of the Act on the Treatment of Inmates and Detainees requires heads of each immigration facility to ensure inmates, when they get sick or injured, have access to a checkup and take measures appropriate to their medical condition.

Fujino said, "When the man got ill, there was no doctor working in the Tokyo immigration center. The paramedics who came were the only medical professionals present at that time," criticizing the center's reaction for going against Article 30 of the regulations. He demanded, "The medical care system at immigration facilities should be drastically improved."

Past related articles:
> JCP lawmakers inspect poor conditions at immigration detention facilities [October 21, 2018]
> Over 100 foreign detainees staged hunger strike in immigration center in Ibaraki's Ushiku [May 22, 2018]
> Poor medical standards at immigration centers in Japan violate human rights [May 10, 2018]
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