A Nigerian activist seeking asylum in Japan is being held in solitary confinement at a Tokyo detention centre, it has been reported.
Elizabeth Aruoriwo Obueza was detained two weeks ago after authorities turned down an appeal against her asylum rejection.
The 48-year-old who campaigns for asylum seekers was arrested in part of a wider campaign by the Japanese Justice Ministry taking steps to reduce the number of foreigners living in the Asian country without visas.
This has prompted lawyers and other activists to demand for her immediate release.
“Elizabeth was targeted and detained for being an activist,” said immigration lawyer Shoichi Ibusuki. “I want her released immediately.”
Also the head of the Provisional Release Association in Japan, a group representing refugees and immigrants, Mitsuru Miyasako said, “Elizabeth is held in solitary because she’s an activist and immigration officials don’t want her causing trouble.
“Locking someone up alone in a tiny room is to ruin them psychologically.”
Obueza claims she fled Nigeria for Japan in 1991 to escape female genital mutilation and applied for asylum in 2011.
Obueza told Reuters she was locked up for more than 22 hours a day.
“I want to help people,” she said. “Give me the right to help people – don’t put me in here.”
During her previous 10-month arrest in 2011 at a different centre, the Nigerian activist organised detainees to write a petition to immigration authorities calling for better medical care, Miyasako said.
For more than a decade, Obueza has visited immigration detention centres across Japan, helping detainees navigate the asylum system and find legal help, said rights groups, lawyers and former detainees.