Spread of COVID-19 in Japanese prisons spurs calls for releases

Originally published by Magdalena Osumi – The Japan Times on 20/04/2020


The article notes that Japan has not yet granted compassionate release of inmates like other countries. However, a number of groups are calling for the release of detainees.COVID-19 has already affected three correctional facilities — in Osaka, Tokyo and Hokkaido — where a total of 10 people have tested positive, putting staff and inmates at risk.Concerns are rising among authorities and rights groups that an exponential spread of the virus in such facilities would eventually lead to staff shortages and problems in accessing medical care.These concerns led the Japan Federation of Bar Associations to issue a statement on April 15 calling on the authorities to alleviate the problem by granting detainees special or temporary permission to reside in Japan. The Japan Association for Refugees group noted that officials should allow for the release of as many detainees as possible, while the rights group Amnesty International Japan said migration-related detention should not be considered justifiable amid the current crisis, given that most borders are closed in efforts to contain the outbreak.Immigration officials have taken preventative measures by placing all new detainees under quarantine to prevent imported transmissions and are now allowing for the provisional release of some detainees held in migrant detention.

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