Japan panel calls for penalizing foreigners who refuse deportation
Japan Times -- Jul 15
A panel under the justice minister proposed Tuesday establishing criminal penalties for foreign nationals who do not comply with deportation orders as Japan seeks to curb long-term detention of foreigners at immigration facilities.

The Immigration Services Agency is expected to consider drafting revisions to the immigration law based on the panel's proposals to Justice Minister Masako Mori to include imprisonment or fines for those resisting deportation.

Supporters of those detained, however, worry the move could lead to lawyers and volunteer workers helping foreign nationals avoid deportation being charged as accomplices.

They say some of those detained cannot go back to their home countries for fear of persecution, or because they have families in Japan. "The immigration law should not be amended easily," said Shogo Watanabe, a lawyer well-versed in refugee issues.

Japan has long been criticized by bar associations and human rights groups for long-term detention of foreign nationals who refuse to accept deportation on the grounds that they are seeking recognition as refugees or have families in the country.

The panel was set up last October to review the system following the death of a Nigerian man in his 40s in June of last year who had gone on a hunger strike at an immigration center in Omura, Nagasaki Prefecture, over his prolonged detention, marking the first such death in Japan.

The man had been detained since July 2016 and refused to be deported because he had family in Japan.

Those facing deportation in Japan are expected to leave at their own expense unless they lack the financial resources to do so. The government says it does not have either the funds or manpower to deport those financially capable of leaving if they refuse to do so.

News source: Japan Times
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