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Police chief fed up over 'jailed' asylum seekers
Asylum seekers are housed at the Gothenburg police station on Aminogatan

Police chief fed up over 'jailed' asylum seekers

Published: 25 Jan 2011 17:50 GMT+01:00
Updated: 25 Jan 2011 17:50 GMT+01:00

“I’m the one who is ultimately responsible for this and I’m just waiting for something to go horribly wrong,” Gothenburg police chief Lars Klevensparr told Sveriges Radio (SR) on Tuesday.

“I’ve spoken with the Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården) and the Migration Board (Migrationsverket) and no one wants to take responsibility for this.”

The comments come on in the wake of a report by the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper detailing the difficult conditions facing some refugees who have had their asylum claims rejected.

According to the newspaper, refugees who behave violently or are suicidal can find themselves isolated in local jails for weeks on end.

One suicide-prone man has been locked up for 25 days in a cell in a Gothenburg-area jail with nothing but a mattress and a single ceiling lamp, despite regulations stipulating that people be held in such cells for no more than 96 hours.

Since 2001, the Migration Board has housed violent or suicidal asylum seekers awaiting deportation in detention centres used to house suspected criminals.

But a shortage of spots in nearby detention centres has resulted in several asylum seekers being sent instead to the jail at the local Gothenburg police station, which is normally used as a short-term holding facility for people placed under arrest while they await a formal remand request from a prosecutor.

Since last autumn, more than ten asylum seekers have been forced to undergo extensive stays at the local jail.

According to Klevensparr the situation is untenable. He hopes that filing a complaint with the ombudsman will result in a hearing which could benefit all the agencies involved.

“[I hope] that the ombudsman simply puts it foot down and gives us guidance for how we should deal with this,” he told SR.

“Right now, the police have responsibility. But I don’t think that those who wrote the laws think that the police should be dealing with so many people in holding, and more importantly not for such long periods of time.”

Sweden has come into criticism from both the United Nations refugee organisation UNHCR as well as the UN Committee Against Torture for holding rejected asylum seekers in criminal detention facilities.

In the coming weeks, a Swedish government commission is expected to present proposals for how to improve procedures dealing with asylum seekers held outside of Migration Board holding facilities.

Madelaine Seidlitz, a refugee expert with Amnesty International’s Swedish chapter, was hopeful that a decision by Klevensparr to report himself to the ombudsman could help improve what she described as an “unacceptable” situation.

“It sounds like a good idea,” she told The Local.

Seidlitz admitted that housing asylum seekers who are a danger to themselves or to others presents a number of complications, but that current practices can’t continue.

“This can’t go on year in and year out. We must find another solution,” she said.

“We’ve always maintained that Sweden has relied on holding people in remand centres to too great an extent.”

Seidlitz hoped that proposals soon to be put forward by the government commission examining the issue, but added that uncertainty about suggested solutions.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” she said.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

18:31 January 25, 2011 by locaxy
Nationalism leads to horrors...
20:30 January 25, 2011 by svenne101
some aslym seekers think that if they attempt to commit suicide they will get permission to stay in sweden. sometimes that worked out too.

and its worth it because one can live in sweden whole life on social money or tax money.
21:05 January 25, 2011 by Nemesis
Keeping them in jail is stupidity and bigotry or the worst kind.

Make up your minds. This is the worst possible solution for everyone concerned, wether it be the asylum seeker themselves, there family, the Swedish police or Swedish society in general.

Either let them stay in the country or immediately deport them.
21:12 January 25, 2011 by Njal
I can't find it within myself to blame the Police chief. Idiotic asylum policies will leave this guy holding the bag.

If they are violent and suicidal (the asylum seekers), then Sweden ought to send them back immediately to their homeland, they are not Sweden's problem.
22:57 January 25, 2011 by Ravioli
There are 31,000 asylum applications per year in Sweden. What in the HECK are they supposed to do with all of these people?? This police chief doesn't make Sweden's insane asylum seeker doesn't make these INSANE rules, he just suffers them.
23:08 January 25, 2011 by Maler1971
Asylum/refugee = criminals on the run ...many times!

One word............. "deportation"
23:42 January 25, 2011 by millionmileman
When someone sees wrong and speaks out against "Following Orders." This is an encouraging concept.
00:07 January 26, 2011 by Nilspet
@ Maler1971

Asylum seekers/refugees are not necessarily criminals on the run. What if you had trouble in Sweden and then needed a refuge in e.g. Canada .. would be it nice if Canadians see you as a criminal? For sure some refugees have commited crimes in their countries e.g. by criticizing their government .. but those may not be considered crimes according to our law and that is why Sweden can give them protection. Of course there are people who lie in order to get a residence permit and that is why some of them get their applications rejected. We all know there are too many asylum seekers and I think the best way to stop economic refugees is to do another kind of PR about Sweden i.e. we must start telling the world that we are not a rich country and citizens here have to struggle to survive. We cannot give you free lunch anymore .. you will have to work really hard if you come here. Then i think many will not try to come here for benefits. Those who are truly in need of protection should still be considered of course.

Anyway whether those people are granted a permit or rejected Sweden as a developed country should treat them as humans with respect to international law.
00:45 January 26, 2011 by muckfuslims
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
01:40 January 26, 2011 by Syftfel
I agree that we must find another solution. But RELEASING THEM IS NOT AN OPTION!. You liberals, anarchists, open borders riff-raff, and socialists need to be taught a lesson. It's either keep them locked up or deportation.
06:17 January 26, 2011 by muscle
Decisions taken at the government level arent easy. Lot of aspects need to be kept in mind. Examples include reputation of the country, nation, international bodies, human rights etc. I agree deportation may be the right solution, but if based on the constraints its not a possibility then other means are to be adopted.

Utilize these men, for the benefit of the state IF they are not being deported. If they are skilled, well and good, otherwise train them so they can be used.

Well I agree, there are problems associated with this approach, but then again no approach is without problems. Side by side, laws need to be tighten up.
07:45 January 26, 2011 by keiler
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
08:06 January 26, 2011 by calebian22
If you don't have the capacity to handle the influx of refugees in a humanitarian way, reduce the influx. The thin air in the ivory towers where our politicians live might make it difficult for them to comprehend such a simple and pedestrian idea however.
08:11 January 26, 2011 by svenne101
may allah help them. i remember once a guy from afghanistan was burned himself by pouring petrol on himself in the toilet of the court.

no one wants that kind of people roaming on the streets. they sould be identified and locked up and deported as soon as possible.

aslym and refugee system in sweden is a big scam and bogus.

i have zero sympathy for them.
08:41 January 26, 2011 by RobinHood
The asylum seekers housed in prison are "rejected asylum seekers". These would be people who have entered Sweden's borders illegally and without good cause. Detention centres seem the sensible place for them, not only the violent and suicidal ones, but also for anyone likely to do a runner at the first opportunity - which is most of them.

If Lars Klevensparr says there aren't enough detention centres, build some more chop chop. Then find out why so many "rejected assylum seekers" keep turning up in Sweden and put a stop to it.
09:40 January 26, 2011 by technoviking
They are illegal immigrants. Should they be in a government paid hotel?

Not an ideal situation, but maybe this will make them stop coming in the first place.
10:25 January 26, 2011 by hjoian
I dont see that the Swedish goverment are going to want to spend millions of kroner building more holding centres,when they are trying to cut down the number of asylum seekers entering the country in the first place. This goverment will probably talk about it for some time,but come to no conclusions. This police officer should not have to baby sit these people,its not in his job description unless these people are convicted criminals. If you do not know how to deal with these people when they are here....how do you see your own future developing?? Get real....wake up....sort it!
10:54 January 26, 2011 by theTRUTH4u
When will the authorities and the government wake up and take some real action - like SHIP THEM ALL HOME WHERE THEY CAME FROM?

Deporting - go home - kick them out - whatever you want to call it.

We are really fed up paying tax money for this!
11:29 January 26, 2011 by johnny1939
Mr. Klevensparr is covering his backside and rightly so. But what can you do besides building a facility for asylum seekers?. Maybe the word will get around that Sweden is not as easy going as they think. I hope so. I don't have a free apartment and food. Besidea that, many of them given free apartments do not take care of them and only complain. I say it again send them to the US they are the ones responsible for their problems for the most part. But of course Sweden probably have some agreement w/ the yanks to take some of these people.
13:28 January 26, 2011 by Chickybee
In Luxembourg asylum seekers get no money and are given the most basic of accommodation - no private housing or benefits at all.

Many illegals are deported - in fact Luxembourg has one of the 'worst' records in the EU for granting asylum and guess what - they don't have the kind of incidents we have in Sweden.

Zero tolerance and the most basic of welcomes - if people are genuine asylum seekers they will go to any safe haven to save their lives and not somewhere where they can have 'the good life'.
14:32 January 26, 2011 by Jes
Alomst everybody has said it , but nobody seems to have heard it : asylum -seeking is not the space -science the Immgration authority is making it look like . Just cut the waiting time to a mixmum of 3 months . An applicant that is unable to prove that they need protection withing this period should be sent back to the point where they boarded the plane , ship or bus . In cases where Migrations has problems talking a decision under the 3 month period , benefit should be given to the applicant .

The World is connected by seconds . Those who immgrate to Sweden always know what is waiting . One can therefore culturate and decide if it worth paying 10 000 dollars for a trip if they are likely to be deported within 3 months .

As it is today , seekers are made to sit and wait in camps for years . The stress of waiting can make some people insane . For the others , it is only natural that one establishes relationships in a place where they live for more than a year . It is some of such people that become suicidal when the police starts hunting them down .

It is so easy to blame the asylum-seeker if you are ignorant . But Sweden is to blame for lacking the guts to check its own short-comings . Many a time , you hear asylum-seekers who have families in Sweden being deported , only to return withing months because they have the right to .

Does anybody know how much it costs to deport one person accompanied by 4 police officers ?
14:42 January 26, 2011 by technoviking
@ jes

Good points. Sweden has simply made seeking asylum too pleasant an option so that there is no incentive whatsoever for them not to come try it.

The expense is entirely on the Swedish taxpayer and there is only upside potential for the seeker... Maybe the more unpleasant the process becomes, the less seekers will come and maybe only the few who really need it will even bother trying.

Either way, the message needs to get out that the soft cushy Swedish teat is no longer dangling out there for all to come grab.
16:09 January 26, 2011 by jimmy1988
The best thing to do is send them back.
23:34 January 26, 2011 by soultraveler3
If they're to be deported, send them back immedately. It's inhumane to keep people locked up for months on end if all they're doing is waiting to be flown home. Being locked up like that also has the potential to breed hate into people.

Why not build a decent sized, nice, detention center right next to the court house / immigratin offices? If they're denied asylum, place them in the center (to make sure they don't run and hide) and fly them home on the first available plane. All this should happen in 1-2 weeks max.

Having them sit around for so long isn't nice on the rejected immigrants or the swedish taxpayer.
12:47 January 27, 2011 by Jes
@Technoviking , you probably misunderstood what I wrote or you are just sarcastic .

There is nothing "pleasant " about seeking asylum in Sweden . These people sleep rough and wait for some answer from to day to day , sometimes for years . Okay ,they get some money and free legal and medical care etc while they wait . But how sensible is it to spend so much money on someone you are going to eventually detain and deport by force ? Even animals don`t have to sit in a slaughter house for longer than it is logically necessary unless if the butcher is sadistic.

Anyway , my point was that if the waiting time is not too long things such as suicide, drug use , voilence and other sypmptoms of a frustrated mind would be minimized , it will be in everybody`s interest that cases are closed before too much stress sets in .

You simply cannot rum people into a state of madness and then wonder why they are acting crazy .

Immigrating is not a crime ; asylum-seekers should be interviewed and not introgated .

I think that this Police Officer is wondering whether a Swede who threatens to commit suicide should be arrested and kept in their jails or whether other authorities should be better qualified to deal with a suicide case .
15:38 January 27, 2011 by RobinHood
There seems to have been a misunderstanding amongst many posters here.

The people the police chief is talking about are failed asylum seekers. This misnomer means that they are not asylum seekers at all, but have entered Sweden illegally (a crime) for other reasons; usually to improve their economic circumstances.

Genuine asylum seekers deserve out sympathy and reasonable hospitality; these guys deserve to be imprisoned, until they can be quickly deported to make room for deserving cases.
19:09 January 27, 2011 by Jes
RobinHood dear , you are right ; there is a misunderstaning here and you are guilty of not understanding the difference between "entering illegally " and waiting to be deported after the application has been turned down .

The Police chief is not talking about immigrants that entered illegally . He is talking about asylum -seekers that are registred by Immigration Department . He says that some of them who are suspected ( BY IMMIGRATION STAFF ) of attempting to commit suicide are handed over to his police and placed with criminals indefinately . He wants to know if Immigration is right to do so .

If these people had committed a "crime " as you ignorantly insinuate , the Police would not be reporting itself to JO .

BTW , immigrating for the purpose of "improving economic circumstances " is a smart thing to do . Swedes do it all the time . Go to Sudan and Congo and see what I mean .
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