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Tokyo lawyers filed a criminal complaint with the Chiba District Court on Thursday against the president and employees of a security company for assaulting and extorting money as a “guarding fee” from two Tunisians who were refused entry into Japan at Narita Airport.

Under the current system, foreigners who are refused entry into the country by immigration authorities are temporarily held at airport facilities or in designated hotels with guards from private firms.

The lawyers and human rights groups including Amnesty International said they hope the accusation will lead to improvement in the handling of such foreigners and eventually cause revisions to relevant laws.

Sosuke Seki and three other lawyers interested in foreigners’ rights allege that employees of the security firm I’M Inc., based in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, extorted $300 each from the two Tunisians by using violence at its office in the airport complex on June 20.

The criminal complaint accuses two security guards, who the lawyers claim were the main assailants, as well as I’M President Harue Watanabe and a section manager for encouraging such violence.

The accusation is largely based on accounts made by two employees of I’M, whose names have been withheld, who say they witnessed the violence at the scene with several other colleagues.

Although Chiba police were told of the incident and launched an investigation, they have not questioned the two witnesses, the lawyers said, explaining the reason for the legal action.

Chiba police were not immediately available for comment, but have reportedly claimed that the security guards used force to stop the Tunisians from acting violently.

But the lawyers quoted the witnesses as saying that the Tunisians did not resist at all.

The money was returned to the Tunisians after they reported the incident to police.

I’M is one the private security firms entrusted by airline companies to watch foreign deportees until they can get return flights. The immigration law stipulates that airlines are responsible for sending out foreigners who are refused entry into Japan by immigration authorities.

The International Air Transport Association rules say costs for such as guards and meals should be covered by the deportees.

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