FCCJ Press Conference on Ghanian death while being deported, Tues Apr 20


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[Mr Suraj’s widow], Koichi Kodama and Mayumi Yoshida

Another illegal immigrant in Japan, another death:
The fatal journey of Mr. Suraj

10:00-11:00 Tuesday, April 20, 2010
(The speech and Q & A will be in Japanese with English interpretation)

On March 22, Mr. Abubakar Awudu Suraj, an illegal immigrant who was in the process of being deported to his native country of Ghana, died in Narita.
The circumstances surrounding Mr. Suraj’s death are unknown. What is clear is that the immigration officers used a towel and handcuff to restrain Mr. Suraj as he was boarding an Egypt Air flight. In February, a first attempt to send Mr. Suraj back to Ghana had failed. Since then, he had been subject to confinement. Married since 2006 to [a Japanese national], he had spent the equivalent of 2 years in detention for no other crime than staying illegally.
The death of Mr. Suraj follows the suicide by hanging of a South Korean man a week ago in the Ibaraki detention center. And the self-hanging of a young Brazilian man in Ibaraki again. And a hunger strike by 70 detainees at the Osaka detention center in March.
The appalling conditions Japan is placing illegal immigrants in have been regularly denounced. Immigration authorities in particular, which lack judicial oversight, have the ability to indefinitely detain people, breakup families by deporting one of their members, and so on. More tragedies are to come.
10 days ago, Jorge Bustamante, U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of immigrants, concluded a Japan visit at the end of which he was very critical of Japan.
Come and hear from [the] wife of the late Mr. Suraj, Koichi Kodama, Lawyer and Mayumi Yoshida, Deputy Representative of Asian People’s Friendship Society.
Please reserve in advance, 3211-3161 or http://www.fccj.or.jp/node/5565 (still & TV cameras inclusive). Reservations and cancellations are not complete without confirmation.

Professional Activities Committee

児玉 晃一、吉田 真由美
(スピーチ日本語: 逐次通訳付)

3 comments on “FCCJ Press Conference on Ghanian death while being deported, Tues Apr 20

    UN NEWS New York, Apr 16 2010 2:05PM

    Some 10 million detainees around the world are held in appalling conditions and stronger measures are needed to improve prison conditions and ensure full respect for human rights, according to a United Nations expert on torture.

    “In light of some 10 million human beings deprived of personal liberty and their alarming conditions of detention, the need for a legally binding and enforceable human rights instrument is pressing,” UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak told the 12th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice currently under way in Salvador, Brazil.

    He cited countries he had already visited in his role as a UN independent unpaid expert, from Uruguay, Indonesia and Nigeria to Georgia, Moldova and Kazakhstan and from Mongolia and China to Jordan and Sri Lanka. He said his mandate provides for unannounced visits and unsupervised interviews with detainees, two conditions denied him by Russia and the United States.

    Of the millions detained under degrading conditions, many might be innocent victims of corrupt and dysfunctional criminal justice systems and often belong to the groups facing the greatest discrimination in society, such as the poor, minorities, drug addicts or aliens, Mr. Nowak said yesterday as he delivered a keynote address to a workshop at the conference.

    Moreover, strict prison hierarchies meant that those at the bottom – children, the elderly, persons with disabilities and diseases, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons ¬– suffered “double or triple discrimination,” Mr. Nowak added.

    Besides corporal punishment and other forms of violence, deprivation of food, water, clothing and health care is a cause of concern to him, as are violations of the right to the minimum of space, hygiene, privacy and security necessary for a humane and dignified existence.

    In a visit to Uruguay’s Libertad Prison, Mr. Nowak said he found hundreds of convicts and pre-trial detainees had spent months or even years in tiny metal boxes in which summer temperatures could reach 60 degrees Celsius. Detainees drank water from the toilets and defecated in plastic bags which they later threw out of their cells.

    “The noise and smell were unbearable and must be regarded as inhuman, even for the prison guards working there,” he said. “Prisoners had to cut themselves in order to get attention and medical assistance.”

    In many post-Soviet countries, including Georgia, Moldova and Kazakhstan, long-term prisoners were locked up most of the time, sometimes in solitary confinement. In Mongolia, some prisoners were held in solitary confinement for up to 30 years, and some on death row were kept shackled in dark cells for months, and could only be visited by one family member before their execution.

    Inhuman conditions exited in China, Jordan, Sri Lanka and other countries, Mr. Nowak noted. Indonesia raised objections to his allegation that prisoners paid a daily fee for “accommodation,” but he stood by his characterization of such payments as “corruption fees.”

    He said a good indicator of a well-functioning prison was a low ratio of pre-trial detainees to convicts, noting that in Nigeria almost 70 per cent of prisoners were in pre-trial detention and he had called for the immediate release of 20,000 people since most had already exceeded the maximum penalty possible in relation to the crime they were suspected of committing.

    “In far too many countries, pre-trial detention […] serves as a type of preliminary punishment for all criminal suspects who lack sufficient money to bribe corrupt police or prison officials, judges and prosecutors,” he added.

    UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) official Fabienne Hariga noted that while prison populations comprise many drug addicts and sex workers, health-care standards and access to medicine, water and quality food are sub-standard in many cases.

    Tuberculosis is rampant in many prisons, resulting in preventable deaths in various parts of the world. Prison officials are often corrupt and negligent in attending to prisoners’ needs while officials often deny the problems, she said, emphasizing that all too often prisoners’ right to health was not respected.

    For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

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  • I asked my husband if he has heard something about South Korean who has (possibly) commited suicide in a detention center, and he hadn’t heard about it. If you have any info on both suicide cases, could you post it, please?
    [silly bit deleted]

    — I would post it if I had it, obviously. Sorry.

  • Re: Norik

    Jiji Press blurb (in Japanese):


    Male South Korean Illegal Overstayer Commits Suicide – Eastern Japan Immigration Control Center, Ibaraki

    A South Korean male (age 47), who was in the process of being subjected to forcible deportation under the Immigrant Control and Refugee Recognition Law (illegal overstaying), and was being detained at the Ministry of Justice’s Eastern Japan Immigration Control Center (Kuno-cho, Ushiku-shi, Ibaraki Prefecture), was found dead after he had committed suicide, which (was made public) on (April) 10th.

    According to center spokespeople, the man was found hanging in a shower room within the detention facilities by an immigration officer at around 4:30PM on (April) 9th. The man was rushed to a hospital but was (subsequently) pronounced dead.

    The shower room in question acts as an area that allows detainees to leave their cells, so that they can move freely for a certain duration of time. The man was detained last November after being placed in forcible deportation (proceedings).

    In February, a Brazilian national (age 25) at said center was found dead after he had committed suicide by hanging himself with a noose fashioned out of garbage bag(s). (2010/04/10-13:28)


    I was not able to find any other mention of it, granted I haven’t had time to really search for it that thoroughly.


    — Thanks for taking the time and trouble to translate. Tasukaru!


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