OSAKA — About two dozen local residents representing five nongovernmental organizations have launched a watchdog group to track alleged human rights abuses at the West Japan Immigration Detention Center near Osaka.
“This group is being formed because NGOs have long received reports of human rights abuses at Japanese detention centers and authorities have refused to provide answers,” Michitsune Kusuka, a spokesman for the new group, called Immigration Watchers, said Thursday.
One of the new group’s first activities will be to meet directly with detainees at the West Japan Immigration Center to listen to complaints, assess living conditions at the center, and to publicize claims of human rights abuses through other NGO networks in both the Kansai region and Tokyo.
In addition to regular, informal meetings with detainees, Immigration Watchers plans to send all detainees a written questionnaire within the next few months.
The survey will cover five aspects of the West Japan center: medical facilities and services, privacy of communication between detainees and their families, the nutritional value of meals, regularly scheduled exercise time, and bathing facilities.
Survey results will be shared with other human rights’ NGOs, including one in Tokyo that tracks reports of abuses at the East Japan Immigration Detention Center.
Representatives from the Tokyo group attended the inaugural meeting on Thursday.
“The United Nations and the Japanese government have guidelines on immigration detainees pertaining to all these areas,” Kusuka said. “But we’ve heard complaints from many detainees on these five issues, and it appears the West Japan center is in violation of the U.N. guidelines.”
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