[Statement] We strongly denounce the Ministry of Justice for leading Mr. A – a foreigner who had been detained in the Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center for a long time – to death
– We Korea Refugee Rights Network will for the sake of Mr. A and the foreigners who are getting old and coming close to death in detention facilities day by day investigate the truth and fight for the fundamental improvement.
On October 18th, a male Iranian foreigner(Mr. A) in his late 50s, who had been detained for a year at the Hwaseong Immigration Processing Center, died at a hospital in Incheon. Three days had passed after Mr. A was taken to the hospital because of stomach pains. The Refugee Human Rights Network, which has championed the freedom and human rights of detained foreigners and fought for the improvement of the system, offers deep condolences and consolation to the bereaved family, praying for the memory of the deceased who died suddenly in a faraway country.
The cause of Mr. A’s death is known to be acute heart failure caused by external infection. The more accurate cause of death was not revealed according to the family’s wishes. Mr. A has been in poor health ever since he entered the center. Recently, he was treated at a hospital due to cataract symptoms. The fact that the man who had been in custody for a year died of an external infection clearly shows that the poor conditions at the center are the direct cause of his death.
The Immigration Processing Center does not offer a “protective” environment at all. People suffer from stress as they have to live with strangers in a small shelter all day long. Food and clothing supplies are not enough and medical services are even worse. Even a healthy person’s health will fail if he/she stays here for a long time. Mr. A was detained in such a place for a year, and it wore away his overall health.
Even if a person suffers from pain like Mr. A, he/she has to pay for all the medical treatment to receive outside medical treatment. It is difficult to seek cooperation from the center for going to an outside hospital. If one cannot afford the medical expenses, he/she should rely on the medical rooms within the center, but both personnel and facilities are at a poor level. In the case of the Hwaseong Immigration Processing Center, one doctor treats 300 to 500 protected foreigners. Receiving treatment other than basic standing pills cannot be expected. Does this make sense?
Mr. A’s death may have been a scheduled event that could have happened at any time, possibly to any foreigner in custody. Already in 2015, a Moroccan foreigner died at the Hwaseong Immigration Processing Center. Immigration processing centers were originally established for the purpose of keeping foreigners in custody for a short period of time to make repatriation easier. However, as people who cannot return to their homes continue to be detained without time limit, there are nearly 10 people alone in the Hwaseong Immigration Processing Center who have been in the shelters for more than a year like Mr. A.
The Ministry of Justice should deeply apologize for the death of Mr. A and come up with fundamental measures to prevent recurrence. It should reflect on the fact that another foreigner died under custody since the death of a Moroccan national in 2015. Above all, the government will have to secure manpower and budget to have effective prevention-oriented medical systems, including the revision of the current immigration law which has no restriction on the period of detention.
Activists at the Korea Refuge Rights Network once again pay tribute to Mr. A and share the grief of the bereaved family. We will investigate and reveal the truth, and fight for the fundamental improvement of the system so that Mr. A’s death will not easily be forgotten.
Korea Refugee Rights Network