WORLD Japan pledges reform after woman's death in detention


Japan pledges reform after woman's death in detention


21:09, August 10, 2021

Pedestrians wearing protective face masks walk across a busy intersection at Shibuya in Tokyo, Japan on April 23, 2021. Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday declared a third state of emergency over COVID-19 in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo. The state of emergency will come into effect from Sunday to May 11. (Photo: Xinhua)

Japan on Tuesday apologized for the death of a Sri Lankan woman in immigration detention and pledged to reform conditions in the system.

Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said a report on the March death of 33-year-old Wishma Sandamali concluded she received inadequate treatment as her health deteriorated.

Sandamali was detained for overstaying her visa after seeking police protection, reportedly to escape an abusive relationship.

She reportedly complained repeatedly of stomach pain and other symptoms starting in January, and campaigners alleged she was given inadequate medical care.

"I express my heartfelt condolences to her mother and bereaved family, and my heartfelt apologies for [the] loss of this precious life in the detention center," Kamikawa said.

The minister said the report had not conclusively determined the cause of Sandamali's death but found the detention center in Nagoya in central Japan "lacked a system to assess the health of detainees and provide medical services."

"I have instructed the chief of the immigration services agency to take control and supervise regional outlets appropriately," Kamikawa said.

"We will carry out reforms with the determination that this never happens again."

National broadcaster NHK said four officials at the detention center were "reprimanded" over the death.

Sandamali's family has been in Japan campaigning for information about her death, and said the government's announcements were not enough.

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