Govt rejects claims in damages lawsuit over death of Sri Lankan detainee

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Nagoya District Court

NAGOYA (Jiji Press) — The government on Wednesday rejected plaintiffs’ claims in a damages lawsuit over the death of Sri Lankan detainee Wishma Sandamali.

“Decisions on what medical care should be given are left to the reasonable discretion of detention facility heads, and therefore there was no violation of obligations to exercise due care,” the government said at the day’s court hearing at Nagoya District Court.

The civil case was brought by the bereaved family of Wishma, who died at age 33 in March last year at a detention facility of the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau.

Wishma’s health condition worsened quickly after she was taken to the facility. After throwing up repeatedly, she died without being provided with medical care such as drip infusion therapy or hospitalization.

The family sought ¥156 million in damages from the government, claiming that the government detained the woman illegally and failed to provide necessary medical care.

The government argued that the woman was kept in detention legitimately under deportation procedures.

“It is up to the reasonable discretion of detention facility heads to decide what medical care should be given, based on the opinions of doctors,” the government said, noting that there are limits to medical services available at the facilities.

The plaintiff side had requested the court to order the government to present 295 hours of surveillance camera footage of Wishma at the detention facility.

On Wednesday, the government demanded that the request be rejected, saying that the footage does not need to be examined as evidence.

Wishma’s younger sister, Poornima, said in the courtroom that the entire footage must be submitted in order to uncover the truth.