Two men die at immigration center


Two detainees at an immigration center in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, died over the weekend, an official said Monday, just months after the death of another man at the same facility.

On Friday an Iranian man in his 30s choked on his dinner and was taken to a nearby hospital, but he died Saturday afternoon, a spokeswoman at the immigration center said.

Sunday morning a Cameroonian man in his 40s was found unconscious in his cell, she said.

“Officials immediately called an ambulance while giving him cardiac massage,” she said.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital about an hour later.

The spokeswoman said the Cameroonian had complained of feeling sick Thursday and had been moved from a shared room to a private one. She said he had also been seen by a doctor.

“The cause of his death is not yet known,” she said, adding a autopsy will be carried out on both men.

Rights activists say conditions in detention centers here are poor and allegations of mistreatment are rife.

Last October, an asylum seeker — a member of Myanmar’s Rohingya ethnic group — collapsed and died after staff at the Ushiku center failed to call for a medic, allegedly because the doctor was having lunch.

Kimiko Tanaka, a member of a local pressure group, said information on the latest deaths was hazy, but campaigners were trying to collect information on both cases.

“We hear that detainees, including roommates of the Cameroonian man, refused to return to their cells, which are locked at night, as a form of protest,” she said.

The center’s spokeswoman said there had been some disquiet over the man’s death, but “things have now returned to normal.”