National / Crime & Legal

Iraqi man fearing persecution for ties to Saddam party sues Japan for refusing refugee status

Kyodo

A 29-year-old Iraqi man sued the government Monday, demanding the retraction of a decision in 2017 to reject his application for refugee status.

The man filed the suit with the Osaka District Court, claiming he faces persecution in his home country as a son of a member of the Ba’ath Party, formerly led by toppled Iraq President Saddam Hussein, and that it is unjust not to grant his application.

According to the lawsuit, an anti-Saddam faction persecuted his father after the former president fell from power in 2003, and the man’s uncle was killed on the street.

Additionally, the complainant claimed he was kidnapped and held for half a year by an armed organization in 2012, during which he was tortured with iron bars and knives.

The man, who declined to be named, came to Japan in January 2016 to escape the danger but returned to Iraq three months later because his visa expired. He returned to Japan on a visa in 2017 and applied for refugee status, as persecution of Ba’ath Party members continued after the Islamic State militant group gained power.

The Immigration Bureau of Japan turned down his application, saying there is no persecution threat.

“I can’t go back to Iraq. I want to stay safe in Japan,” said the man at a news conference in Osaka.

He lives in Kyoto and works part time.

According to the Justice Ministry, the number of applicants seeking refugee status fell about 47 percent to 10,493 in 2018 amid stricter rules, with 42 successful, up from 20 the previous year.