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SOCIETY > Human Rights

Family demands truth behind Sri Lankan detainee’s death in Japan

  • June 8, 2022
  • , Jiji Press , 11:18 p.m.
  • English Press

Nagoya, June 8 (Jiji Press)–Two younger sisters of a Sri Lankan woman who died last year at a detention facility in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, called on Wednesday for judicial authorities to fully disclose the circumstances of her death.

 

They made the request at Nagoya District Court during the first hearing of a lawsuit in which the family of Wishma Sandamali, who died in March 2021 at the age 33, are demanding that the Japanese government pay a total of 156 million yen in damages.

 

The plaintiffs claimed that Japanese immigration authorities detained Wishma illegally and failed to provide her with necessary medical treatment. The government asked the court to reject the claim of the plaintiffs.

 

The focal point in the lawsuit is the causal relationship between the actions of the immigration authorities and Wishma’s death.

 

The plaintiffs have asked the court to issue an order for the government to submit surveillance camera footage of Wishma’s detention and the results of the judicial autopsy on her.

 

Wayomi, the 29-year-old sister of Wishma, said that her sister had sought help the whole time she was detained.

 

According to the plaintiffs and other sources, Wishma lost a lot of weight after being detained. A urine test conducted three weeks before her death showed an anomalous result indicating that she was in a state of starvation.

 

She repeatedly requested medical care but officials at the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau facility failed to respond as they suspected her of feigning ill health, according to the sources.

 

In a voice choked with emotion, Wayomi said that she wants everyone to watch the surveillance camera footage to see how her sister was treated and died.

 

Poornima, 27, the youngest sister, asked the court to hand down a ruling that would bring a change to the Japanese immigration authorities so that no one will ever be left to die again.

 

Koichi Kodama, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, reiterated the request for the release of the camera footage, saying that “judges have the responsibility to know the truth.” He said, “We can never see what actually happened through transcriptions or still images.”

 

After the hearing, Wayomi and Poornima told a press conference that they believe the court will make the right decision.

 

Wishma came to Japan in 2017 to study but was detained at the Nagoya facility in August 2020 for overstaying her visa.

 

Her health started deteriorating around January 2021, with symptoms that included cyclical vomiting. She died about two months later without being able to secure temporary release.

 

In August the same year, the Immigration Services Agency of Japan released a report on Wishma’s death. While admitting to flaws in the medical care system, the report stopped short of clarifying the relationship between the response of the immigration authorities and Wishma’s death.

 

A number of deaths of foreigners at detention facilities in Japan have been reported, according to Shoichi Ibusuki, another lawyer for the plaintiffs.

 

“What we are demanding is a simple thing, that we want a very sick person to be taken to hospital,” Ibusuki said.

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