Mainichi: Rwandan Refugee applicant jailed for weeks for not having photograph on GOJ-issued document
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on February 16th, 2010
Hi Blog. Here’s a case of how the GOJ can be incredibly insensitive towards how the J cops police NJ: Not issuing them documents properly just in case they get snagged for Gaijin Card checks.
There was the threat of this sort of thing happening when a friend of mine accidentally overstayed his visa back in 2004, and after he went in, owned up, and was forgiven by Immigration, they issued no physical proof that his visa was now legal and could have been deported anyway had he not avoided Police Boxes for the following few weeks:
Immigration law overdoes enforcement, penalties
…A university professor, who has worked in Japan for more than a decade, discovered his visa was three weeks overdue. He went to Immigration to own up — which, until recently, would have resulted in a lot of bowing and a letter of apology. But this time, after being questioned, photographed, and fingerprinted, he was told that he was now a criminal, warranting an indefinite period of background investigation.
Problem is, officials refused to issue any evidence that his visa was being processed. Outside Immigration, he was still as illegal as when he walked in. Their advice? “Stay out of trouble. And remember your case number.”
Contrast that with how Japan processes other forms of identification, such as driver licenses. The government mails all bearers a reminder before expiry. During processing, you get a temporary license to keep you out of jug in case you get stopped by the cops.
But if the professor gets snagged for a random Gaijin Card Check, he might just disappear. With detentions short on legal advice or contact with the outside world, what’s to stop another summary deportation?
Things haven’t changed. Read on. This negligence on the part of otherwise thorough policing in Japan is worse than ironic. It should be unlawful — harassing, even incarcerating, otherwise law-abiding NJ just because they got zapped by racial profiling in the first place. Arudou Debito in Edmonton
Rwandan refugee held by prosecutors over visa status
(Mainichi Japan) January 23, 2010, Courtesy of M&M
NAGOYA — A Rwandan man seeking refugee status in Japan has been held in custody for over two weeks, on suspicion of violating the Immigration Control Law.
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and refugee relief organizations are requesting his release, police said.
The 30-year-old was arrested on Jan. 7 for failing to present valid identification after stopped by local police in the Aichi Prefecture city of Kita-Nagoya, according to his lawyer. He was carrying a copy of the receipt for his refugee status application, but the document was deemed invalid without a photograph.
On Jan. 13, the Nagoya District Public Prosecutors Office was informed by the Ministry of Justice that the man filed for refugee status with the Nagoya Regional Immigration Bureau in 2008. However, public prosecutors have decided to keep the man in custody until Jan. 28, and the local summary court has approved the decision.
“We cannot comment on the matter as we are in the middle of an investigation,” said public prosecutors.
The man, a member of the Tutsi ethnic minority from southern Rwanda, fled to Uganda in 1994 to escape persecution. He was 14 years old. He lost contact with his family and returned home in 2003. In April 2005, he arrived in Japan on a fake passport.
After working in Aichi and Mie prefectures for a couple of years, the man applied for refugee status in November 2008. However, despite three interviews with immigration authorities he has yet to be granted refugee status. He also applied for a foreign resident certificate in Kanie, Aichi Prefecture, in October 2009, but the municipality says they cannot verify the applicant’s identity.
According to the Foundation for the Welfare and Education of the Asian People’s Refugee Assistance Headquarters, foreigners who have been arrested for illegal overstaying or nonpossession of passport are often released if only their application for refugee status is confirmed.
“It is unlawful that police and public prosecutors keep him in custody knowing his status,” said lawyer Naoya Kawaguchi.