National / Crime & Legal

Brazilian man sues Japan for injuries after being forcibly restrained at immigration center

Kyodo

A Brazilian man has sued the Japanese government after sustaining injuries in October last year while being forcibly restrained at an immigration facility in Tokyo, people familiar with the matter said Monday.

Andre Kussunoki, 33, has filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court, claiming the physical restraint used by immigration officials was unnecessary and amounted to assault. He is demanding that the state pay ¥5 million in damages.

Kussunoki says he still suffers from pain and cannot raise his arm. He sustained injuries to his shoulder when he was restrained by several officials after refusing to follow an order at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, the sources said. The bureau detains foreign nationals who have received deportation orders.

Several other detainees have sustained injuries in recent years while being physically restrained at immigration facilities in the country. A Kurdish man sustained an injury to his neck in May last year at the Tokyo immigration bureau, and a Turkish man broke his right arm in July 2017 at the Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau.

According to internal documents from the immigration bureau, immigration authorities tried to transfer Kussunoki to an immigration center in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Oct. 9, 2018, but he resisted the transfer order by locking himself in the toilet.

Six immigration officials had to forcibly remove him from the toilet, forcing him down onto his stomach and handcuffing his wrists behind his back.

Kussunoki, whose fingers were bleeding after the incident, complained of pain in his left shoulder, according to the documents.

After he was transferred to the immigration center in Ushiku later in the day, he was diagnosed by the center’s doctor as having a left rotator cuff injury.

Kussunoki said in a recent interview that the officials continued to restrain him even after he stopped resisting.

“Although I asked the officials to explain why it was necessary for me to be transferred, they persistently said such explanations were unnecessary,” Kussunoki said. “I don’t understand why they had to physically restrain me, when all they needed to do is explain,” he added.

An official at the Immigration Services Agency said, “We recognize that a measure of restraint was carried out using the reasonably minimum necessary physical force for the violation of not complying with orders.”

Some critics point out that detainees and immigration workers are both stressed out, with detainees increasingly held for longer periods of time. The government has been criticized for keeping detainees with no clear idea of when they will be sent back to their countries.

“Being held without any prospects, detainees are feeling stressed, and officials who are responding to them are becoming exhausted and violent,” said Koichi Kodama, a lawyer who has expertise in immigration policy and the rights of foreign nationals.”Detentions at immigration facilities will be conducted for deportation as intended by the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, but detentions of foreigners who have no prospects of deportation should be stopped immediately,” Kodama said.