OSAKA — The Osaka District Court ordered the government on Tuesday to pay damages to a Ugandan man for abuse he received while detained at an immigration facility in Osaka.
In the ruling, presiding Judge Hiroshi Yamashita said officials at the immigration center manhandled Samuel Daka, 34, in May 2001 “beyond the reasonable range of duty assigned to them.” The plaintiff was awarded 200,000 yen in damages.
“This may be the first time abuse committed by immigration officials has been acknowledged by a court,” said a lawyer representing Daka. “It will have a large impact on similar lawsuits.”
According to the ruling, an immigration official hit Daka on the buttocks in May 2001, prompting the plaintiff to demand the matter be reported to police as sexual harassment. Immigration authorities refused to act, the ruling said.
Following Daka’s protest, immigration officials put him in solitary confinement, where he continued to protest loudly, according to the ruling. Eight immigration officials then pinned him to the floor and kicked him in the waist, it said.
Masanobu Ishida, a deputy director of the Osaka immigration facility, said immigration authorities will weigh the ruling carefully to decide whether to appeal.
In the suit, immigration authorities acknowledged they had a video recording of the abuse, and the court adopted the tape as evidence.
Daka had also argued that he was subject to sexual harassment by immigration officials. Judge Yamashita, however, ruled out the claim, saying the plaintiff had just been “lightly hit on the waist and buttocks.”
Upon hearing the ruling, the plaintiff expressed displeasure that the court only partially acknowledged his claims. But he said he hopes the ruling will help improve treatment at immigration facilities.
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