2 Sri Lankans win immigration case in Japan

Lawyer says decision ‘meaningful’ as it ‘deals a hard blow to the immigration authorities’ approach’

ANKARA (AA) – A Japanese court ruled Wednesday in favor of two Sri Lankans who were deported and acknowledged that Tokyo’s immigration services violated their rights.

“The two men were effectively deprived of the opportunity to stand trial to see if they were qualified as refugees,” said Yutaka Hirata, presiding judge of the Tokyo high court, after hearing final arguments in the case against Tokyo Regional Immigration Services Bureau.

The court directed the Japanese government to pay 600,000 yen ($5,457) in compensation to the Sri Lankans, whose names have been withheld.

They applied for asylum between 2011 and 2012 but their cases were rejected. They appealed the government’s decision, demanding 10 million yen ($91,000) in damages.

But they were deported in 2014.

The ruling Wednesday came after a district court dismissed their case in February, arguing “the immigration bureau did not have a duty to tell authorities to withhold the two’s deportation just because they expressed intent to file a lawsuit.”

The Tokyo court said their rights to stand trial to qualify for asylum were violated.

Authorities deported the pair on Dec. 18, 2014, along with other Sri Lankans on a chartered plane.

“The plaintiffs wanted to bring their case to court, but they were forcibly deported,” their lawyer said. “It is a very meaningful decision that deals a hard blow to the immigration authorities’ approach.”

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