[Call for Endorsement] Condemn the summary deportation of 75 undocumented migrants in Japan

May we request your organization to sign as endorser for the attached Joint Statement of condemnation on the recent summary deportation of 75 undocumented Filipinos in Japan.
The Tanggol Migrante Network (Japan) is a collaboration between Migrante Japan and JALISA (Japan Association of Lawyers for International Solidarity) . We are seeking the support of other lawyers groups, migrants organizations, NGOs and other migrant and human rights advocacy groups and individuals in filing a formal protest to the Justice Ministry of Japan and the Philippine government regarding human rights violations committed against the 75 Filipinos.
Tanggol MIGRANTE Statement on the “Forced Deportation” of 75 Undocumented Filipino Migrants
Tanggol MIGRANTE (Defend Migrants) condemns the summary deportation of 75 undocumented Filipinos in Japan as a blatant violation of human rights and disregard for international humanitarian law. Tanggol MIGRANTE is a network of lawyer’s organizations, NGOs, faith communities, organizations of foreign residents in Japan and individuals defending the rights of immigrants, temporary migrants, refugees and displaced persons against human rights violation and all forms of violence and abuse.      
Tanggol MIGRANTE also condemns the Philippine government for taking a “hands-off policy” on the issue and for wittingly or unwittingly conspiring with Japanese immigration to hasten the mass deportation of the 75 Filipino nationals thereby perpetuating the violation of their individual right to seek any and all forms of legal remedy to resolve their legal issues.  
Without consent or warning, all 75 deportees – 53 adult males, 13 females and 8 minor children from different immigration detention facilities – were roused from their sleep in the early morning of July 6 and then forcibly brought to Narita International Airport to board a waiting Japan Airlines flight paid for by the Japanese government that will bring them back to the Philippines with 60 Japanese immigration personnel as security escorts.  
This is the first time ever that a large group of undocumented migrants from the Philippines was deported en masse to the Philippines.  Tanggol MIGRANTE calls it “forced deportation” for it was done summarily without regard to legal procedures, used excessive force and restraints and most importantly, it violated provisions on the fair and humane treatment of undocumented migrants which is enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families. These 75 migrant Filipinos are not hardcore criminals. Their only crime, if one can call it a crime, was overstaying their visa or entering Japan without valid documents. As such, the use of excessive force and restraints and the apparent irregularities in the conduct of the actual deportation procedure present a harrowing image of how Japan actually treats undocumented migrants from poorer countries like the Philippines.    
Personal accounts of some of the deportees and fellow detainees are replete with stories of human rights violations.  
For one, some of the deportees were forced to board the chartered aircraft without travel documents.  Even Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raul Hernandez of the Philippines confirmed to local media that those without valid passport were issued a travel document only upon arrival in Manila. This is not “normal deportation procedure” which further attests to the irregularity of the action. Philippine embassy officials in Tokyo also need to explain why they allowed this to happen if earlier claims were true that they have properly coordinated with Japanese immigration.
Second, the use of excessive force and handcuffs were unnecessary and must be thoroughly investigated into. According to a relative of one deportee, handcuffs were removed only upon disembarkation at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport belying earlier claims by a Japan embassy official in Manila that “use of handcuffs was only minimal.” Tanggol MIGRANTE also received a report that one of the deportees suffered contusions after beaten up by three immigration personnel while trying to restrain him after he refused to be flown back to Manila.
Third, it was also alleged that some of the deportees have pending legal cases still awaiting court decision. At least one family was on provisional release and just waiting for the court’s final decision on their case. According to witnesses, the whole family including the children, were only invited to visit the immigration office but were kept there until they too were deported to the Philippines. They were not allowed to go home anymore to secure their personal belongings and attend to other personal needs. One can only imagine the enormous psychological and emotional trauma this entire process might have on each individual, especially to the children who were also denied the chance to say goodbye to friends and schoolmates for the last time.  
But perhaps the more serious psychological and emotional trauma began the moment they landed in Manila. After long years of being away, it would be extra challenging to adjust to an unfamiliar environment, most especially for the children who do not speak the native language.   Some of the deportees have been away for more than 20 to 30 years. They may have no place to go and without a family and friends to reconnect to, their adjustment would be very difficult, not to mention the fact that very soon they will have face the reality of finding a way to survive or look for jobs which remain scarce in the Philippines until now.        
For many years, Japan has imposed one of the strictest immigration policies in the region. Japan has tried almost all measures and methods to combat illegal migration and suppress the rights of those who manage to sneak in.  
The “random-check policy” on suspected overstays for instance is not helping prevent crimes, nor minimize the entry of undocumented migrants. Instead, it only criminalizes foreign migrants in general which in turn makes them even more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Needless to say, this policy violates individual privacy and causes humiliation even to those with valid residence status. The policy remains in force to date so that all non-Japanese-looking foreigners can be stopped anywhere by patrolling immigration officers or the police. State policies like this do not contribute towards building harmony in society but only adds to the further marginalization and isolation of migrants regardless of race, nationality and gender.
The criminalization of migrants and the inhumane treatment of undocumented migrants in Japan must be stopped. Japan is regarded as a leader in the global community of nations yet it remains backward when it comes to respecting the rights of undocumented migrants.  The mass deportation of undocumented migrants from the Philippines comes on the heels of massive protests against the ongoing crackdown on migrants in South Korea and the Middle East.  For a country that advocates harmony in diversity and promoting multiculturalism in society, this recent action by Japan doesn’t sit well with the image that it wants to project.
As human rights defenders, we demand Japan to STOP the practice of forced deportation. We demand a thorough investigation into the July 6 incident to determine if there were indeed some irregularities in the deportation procedure on the side of the Japanese immigration on the one hand, and the Philippine embassy on the other; to investigate allegations of human rights violations committed against the 75 deportees; and to punish those responsible for abuse of power. Tangol MIGRANTE believes that the rule of law must be followed at all times, but safeguarding human rights and respecting the dignity of every human being should always take precedence. 
Undocumented migrants are human beings, and their rights are human rights too!
STOP Forced Deportation of Undocumented Migrants!
RESPECT the Rights of Undocumented Migrants!
Legalize Undocumented Migrants in Japan!
(Tanggol MIGRANTE Statement on the “Forced Deportation”
of 75 Undocumented Filipino Migrants)
被害者や同じく収容されていた人々の話によれば、75人のフィリピン人は日本の様々な収容施設にいました。同意も警告もないまま、75人の収容者-成人男性54人、女性13人、8 未成年の子供 -は、7月6日の早朝、眠っていたところを起こされ、無理やり成田国際空港に連れて行かれ、警護のために同乗した60人の入国管理局の職員たちとともに、日本政府の負担によって日本航空便でフィリピンに向かうことになりました。

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