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SOCIETY > Human Rights

Japan bar assn. urges prison to respect rights of Muslim inmates

  • May 17, 2017
  • , Kyodo News , 12:23 p.m.
  • English Press

UTSUNOMIYA, Japan — The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has requested the religious rights of Muslim inmates be respected, saying a prison in Tochigi Prefecture may have violated a female inmate’s constitutional rights by confiscating a scarf needed for prayer.


The Tochigi prison located north of Tokyo also did not allow the Bangladeshi woman to adjust her meal times or to possess a watch to track prayer times during Ramadan, according to the association. The woman has already been released from the prison on parole.


When the woman was imprisoned in 2006 she had a scarf to use while praying. But in January 2014, the prison decided to confiscate the head covering, which exceeded a size limit, saying it could be used to commit suicide or help in an escape attempt.


The prison provided her with an alternative but it was too small for her to cover most of her body, the association said.


In a written request submitted to the prison and the Justice Ministry on May 12, the association demanded authorities pay due consideration to the needs of female Muslim inmates, including allowing the use of a scarf of a certain size.


The association also called on Muslim prisoners to be provided with additional food before they begin fasting at sunrise during the month of Ramadan.


The Tochigi prison said that it had instructed the woman a number of times to procure a scarf within the size limit but she did not follow instructions. “There was nothing illegal or illegitimate in our response,” it added.


The ministry issued a statement, saying it hopes to pay consideration to religious practices as long as they do not affect the maintenance of discipline and order in prisons.

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