• Kyodo

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Five Vietnamese refugees will sue the government and other parties over what they say is unfair detention after serving prison terms, their lawyer said Thursday.

The five have been held at an immigration office in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, since finishing prison terms for theft and other charges, said Masaaki Yoshii, who heads their team of lawyers.

After leaving prison, they were placed in detention and deportation orders were issued against them.

Vietnamese authorities have refused to accept them, however, saying they cannot take back refugees who have abandoned their country.

Given that no country will accept them, the five remain in detention. One, a 50-year-old woman, has been confined for 17 months, Yoshii said.

Three of the five, whose temporary release requests have been denied by immigration authorities, will file their lawsuit with the Osaka District Court on Nov. 20, Yoshii said. They will also demand that immigration officials reverse their decisions regarding temporary release.

A decision on the temporary release of the other two is still pending, and they will also sue should it be rejected, he said. All five are seeking compensation of 3 million yen each.

The plaintiffs — four men in their 30s and 40s and the woman — are residents of Saitama, Kanagawa and Hyogo prefectures. The rejected temporary release requests had been filed by their families.

The suit will allege that indefinite detention violates the freedom of movement guaranteed under the Constitution, and amounts to arbitrary detention banned under international human rights laws.

It also says the detention violates Japan’s immigration law, which allows the release of people who cannot be deported.

Yoshii said Indochina refugees should be dealt with differently from other foreign nationals since Japan accepts them on special grounds.

Japan has a policy of accepting Indochinese refugees separately from refugees recognized under an international refugee treaty.

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