Japan Drops Immigration Bill After Death of Sri Lankan Woman

The Japanese government decided to withdraw a bill revising rules on how to accommodate foreigners facing deportation after Ratnayake Liyanage Wishma Sandamali, a Sri Lankan woman who died while detained at an immigration facility.

A lower house committee was due to vote on the amendment bill this week but was blocked by opposition lawmakers.

The death of Sandamali, 33, who was held at the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau raised protests and questions from human rights groups and several lawmakers. 

Human rights groups accused detention officials in the city of Nagoya of failing to provide Sandamali appropriate medical treatment when she complained of experiencing stomach pains. 

Opposition lawmakers demanded an investigation from the government but the Justice Ministry refused to release any footage from Sandamali’s detention due to alleged security risks. 

The opposition lawmakers threatened to submit a no-confidence motion against Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa unless the video footage of Sandamali was released.

Opposition lawmakers and activists argued the proposed revision of the immigration law would allow the deportation procedure to be halted twice while applying for refugee status and that detaining deportees would be prioritized instead of being an exception or last resort.

The Japanese government is expected to resubmit the bill but has not yet disclosed any further details. 

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