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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 May 29 - June 4  > One in four foreign detainees placed in confinement for more than 18 months
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2019 May 29 - June 4 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

One in four foreign detainees placed in confinement for more than 18 months

May 30, 2019
As of 2018, 1,246 foreigners were being held in detention centers for illegal stays in Japan. One in four were confined for more than one year. Cases in which long-tern detainees have gotten seriously ill due to severe stress have frequently been reported.

This was revealed on May 29 in a meeting of the House of Representatives Judicial Affairs Committee by a question from Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Fujino Yasuhumi to the head of the newly-established Justice Ministry agency in charge of immigration control.

The agency head in response to Fujino explained that as of the end of 2018, 681 overstay foreigners were held in immigration centers for more than six months. The official also said that the number of foreigners being kept in custody for more than 12 months and for more than 18 months stood at 491 and 313, respectively.

Fujino referred to a Kurdish asylum seeker, Mehmet Colak, whose detention duration has already exceeded 18 months, stressing how the long-term detention severely affected his health.

The JCP lawmaker cited medical records which Colak obtained through an information disclosure request. According to the document, the Kurdish man in a meeting with a doctor at the end of January talked about his mental distress, saying, “I bang my head on the wall of my cellhouse," and “I feel like dying.” Two months later, his condition grew worse and he became almost unable to communicate. The doctor in the document mentioned the long-term confinement as a possible cause for his mental distress.

Fujino demanded that the government revise its policy of confining all overstayers, including asylum seekers such as Colak, in detention facilities for a long time without taking into account their specific circumstances.

Past related articles:
> Turning ambulance back, immigration center refuses to carry detainee to hospital [March 14, 2019]
> Over 100 foreign detainees staged hunger strike in immigration center in Ibaraki's Ushiku [May 22, 2018]
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