When 'Best' Ain't Good Enough: Sweden's 'Restrictive' Migrant Policy Under Fire


Sweden, which has tightened its asylum routines since the “bumper crop” year of 2015 and introduced an “overly restrictive” asylum policy, should shed some of the restrictions and receive more immigrants, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks said in a new report.

While conceding that Sweden has in many ways been the European leader in migration, Muižnieks argued its leadership did not concern age assessments. Stockholm was criticized for its current assessment routines, in which “at least 80 percent” of the so-called “children” were shown to be adults, Swedish Radio reported.

Instead of medical procedures based on X-rays or dental examinations, Sweden was advised to introduce “interdisciplinary” methods that would allow psychologists and anthropologists, familiar with the situation in the asylum seekers’ home countries, to determine their age.

The Council of Europe was also critical of Sweden’s rules on family reunification, particularly in that Sweden makes a distinction between people with refugee status and those in need of alternative protection. Those in the latter category can only re-unite with their relatives in exceptional cases, which, according to Muižnieks, limits their ability to integrate into Swedish society.

Muižnieks also expressed his concern over many young refugees “disappearing” after arrival to Sweden, venturing that authorities have failed to address this problem. According to Muižnieks, young people risk becoming victims of human trafficking or other forms of exploitation.

Lastly, the Council of Europe also argued that “unaccompanied children” should only be sent to Afghanistan if it is ensured that a family network can receive the people in question and give them a safe home.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t Want Denmark to Become Like Middle East’: MP Roasts Swedish Politics

“Sweden has been quite generous to refugees and asylum seekers, but the emergency conditions imposed several years ago are no longer needed and you can return to your traditional, better policy toward refugees and asylum seekers,” Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muižnieks was quoted as saying by the Aftonbladet daily.

Nils Muižnieks visited Sweden from October 2 to October 6, 2017. This visit is the basis of his report, which is part of the Council of Europe’s recurring review of the human rights situation in member states.

​Swedish Immigration Minister Heléne Fritzon retorted that she was well aware of the criticism highlighted by the report. At the same time, she stressed that no change will be introduced until summer 2019, when the temporary asylum law expires. Furthermore, EU countries need to agree on a common refugee policy, she argued. Without consolidated efforts, it would not be possible for Sweden to make any changes, she stressed.

In 2015, Sweden, a nation of 10 million, took in a record 163,000 asylum seekers.

© Sputnik/ Vladimir Fedorenko

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