Japan withdraws controversial immigration bill amidst growing pressure over SL student’s death

 Amidst growing condemnation and pressure over the recent death of a Sri Lankan woman in Japanese immigration custody, the Japanese government today dropped a draft revision to the Japanese Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, which proposed forcible deportation and criminalization of those who are applying for refugee status in Japan for the third time.

The controversial bill faced staunch opposition from opposition parties in parliament and the general public, especially with the death of 33 year old Wishma Sandamali  in custody raising questions about the country’s lengthy detentions of foreigners.

Wishma was placed in the Nagoya Detention Center in August last year for overstaying her visa. She first complained of a stomach ache and other symptoms in January and died on March 6 despite receiving medical attention from doctors. Her family who is currently in Japan held her funeral on Sunday (16) more than two months after her death. A preliminary investigation report on her death has been issued. But, it has not determined the exact cause of death.

Many protest rallies around the country in Japan demanded the government to denounce the draft revision to the act and demanded the government to hold responsibility for Wishma’s death. Wishma’s family is meeting the Japanese Minister of Justice today (18) to discuss the current status of the investigation.

Japan Times today reported that opposition lawmakers had argued the bill was meant to expand the immigration authority’s power and discretion and that similar problems could happen again as long as the cause of Wishma’s death remains a mystery.

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