1. Approach to Victim Protection
In cases in which victims of human trafficking are legal residents of Japan, the Immigration Bureau approves renewals of victims’ periods of stay and changes to status of residence. The Bureau’s actions are done from the standpoint of victim protection, offering adequate consideration for victims’ situations and taking into account their wishes.
In cases in victims have overstayed their period of residency or are otherwise in violation of immigration law, the Immigration Bureau provides the same adequate consideration for their situations, takes into account their wishes, and acts from a standpoint of victim protection. The Immigration Bureau takes into consideration circumstances such as the following:
- Danger to the victim’s life / physical well-being if returned to home country
- The victim’s mental and physical condition, and the need to provide protection for such
- Cooperation with criminal procedures (prosecution of traffickers, etc.)
The Bureau works to stabilize victims’ legal status through such measures as special residence permission; it flexibly makes use of provisional release, substantively avoiding detention of victims. Furthermore, in cases in which victims wish to reside in Japan after such procedures, the Immigration Bureau will give consideration to individual’s circumstances in a comprehensive manner and consider renewing periods of stay or changing status of residence.
In carrying out various procedures such as landing examination, residence examination, and deportation, the Immigration Bureau bears in mind the following main points.
When questioning victims or possible victims, the Immigration Bureau will do so at a time and place with adequate consideration to victims’ mental/physical condition and privacy. Questioning is also conducted as much as possible through an interpreter of the victim’s native language in order to facilitate communication. Additionally, for female victims (and possible victims), the Bureau makes efforts to assign a female case officer whenever possible in order to help victims feel more at ease. And of course, it goes without saying that victims are never forced into providing testimony.
With regards to the content of the questioning, the Immigration Bureau makes sure to maintain thorough confidentiality. Matters pertaining to the victim/possible victim’s identity are of course kept secret, and the questioning is conducted so that the victim is not found out by his/her employer, the person responsible for bringing him/her to Japan, or any other persons potentially related to trafficking. Particularly in cases in which victims have fled from their brokers and are under protection at a private shelter or similar facility, revealing information about the victim’s whereabouts could lead to harm, so the Bureau takes the utmost caution to maintain confidentiality.