Protest Statement against the Charter Flight Deportation to Sri Lanka and Vietnam

On December 18th, 26 Sri Lankan and 6 Vietnamese nationals, altogether 32 undocumented immigrants were deported by a charter flight. The deported were between 25 and 64 years old, with 31 males and 1 female (Asahi Shimbun, December 20th 2014).

The Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice already used charter flights to deport 75 Filipino nationals on July 6th 2013, and 46 Thai nationals on December 8th 2013. According to the results of a survey conducted by APFS from July 25th to 28th 2013 in the Philippines, the people who were deported had been unable to find employment and were living in deprivation. Also, there were some who had undergone considerable physical and mental stress, due to being separated from their partners or children who live in Japan. Furthermore, it was established that there were some who acquired bruises during the process of deportation. With regard to the charter flight deportation to the Philippines, inquiries were made in the Japanese parliament on November 5th, so there are doubts about humanitarian considerations and the protection of human rights.

Additionally, Mr. ABUBAKAR AWUDU SURAJ (of Ghanaian national), who had been receiving support from APFS for the acquisition of a Special Permission for Residence, died during state funded deportation on March 22nd 2010. In relation to this case, a lawsuit for state compensation is still in progress. On the first degree, the extreme restraining actions of immigration officers were confirmed by the judiciary. It is an outrage in itself that deportation is being continued while the truth is not completely unraveled in a case where the actions of deporting officers seem highly problematic.

There is criticism that there were people among the 32 deportees to Sri Lanka and Vietnam on December 18th who have just failed the refugee recognition process recently, so ‘they were deprived of their rights, since they should have been able for 6 additional months to file a lawsuit to cancel the decision concerning their refugee recognition process’ (Mainichi Shimbun, December 19th 2014). Regarding this group deportation, in addition that there were such people who were in preparation of a lawsuit to demand refugee recognition, there were also people who were separated from their family, including their less than one year old children, so it invites the criticism that it is ‘humanitarianly problematic’ (Nikkei Shimbun, December 20th 2014). Also, there is a possibility that a portion of the deportees is without basic livelihood and will simply be lost on the street.

Further on, according to The Japan Times (December 20th 2014), this was the first case that not only overstayers but also asylum seekers were included among those deported by a charter flight. Among the deportees who were not granted refugee status, political dissidents and people with actual experience of anti-government activities such as protests in front of their country’s embassy in Japan were included too. After returning to their country of origin, they may be exposed to the dangers of persecution. In this sense, when compared to last year’s two charter flight deportations, there is a considerable threat to the well-being of these deportees. While not illegal, such group deportations are suspected to be a form of abuse of power by the government of Japan.

Also, deportation by charter flight out of sight from ordinary citizens has more safety problems than deportation by regular planes. Hence, group deportation should not be allowed on humanitarian grounds, since individual needs of deportees are ignored.

Based on the above, APFS is strongly opposed to this charter flight deportation to Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

December 22nd 2014