Boy who sewed mouth shut to be deported
Published: 05 Sep 2012 11:25 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Sep 2012 16:50 GMT+02:00
A 15-year-old boy from Afghanistan who sewed his mouth shut after his application for Swedish residency was rejected will be deported to Italy, in what a Swedish MEP called a "humanitarian catastrophe in my own country".
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Despite reports of abuse and rape suffered by the boy in Italy, the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) has decided not to make an official request to the Swedish border police to re-open the case of the boy, who is set to be deported back to Italy.
Earlier on Wednesday, a Migration Board official hinted the agency wanted to re-open the case, but the border police said no.
“The police make their own assessment,” said Peter Norén, head of the Malmö border police, to Sveriges Radio (SR).
“There is nothing more peculiar about this case than any other case involving refugee children arriving alone to Sweden. And we won’t be handing the case back to the Migration Board.”
15-year-old Ali arrived to Sweden from Italy during the winter and is being sent back there in accordance with the European Union Dublin Regulation, stipulating that illegal immigrants must be sent back to the country where they entered the EU.
However, representatives for the troubled teen say that he is highly traumatized by his experiences in Italy where he claims he was badly beaten by border guards and sexually abused in a refugee camp.
Annette Cromwell, who represents the boy, said he at first refused to discuss what had happened to him before eventually opening up.
"But then he told of these horrible things that had happened to him," she told the TT news agency.
According to Cromwell, the boy told of going without food or water at a refugee camp in Italy, of being beaten by Italian border police, and of being raped by three men while staying at the camp.
"One man held his arms behind his back and laid him down on his stomach, another spread his legs apart, and the third man raped him. And then they switched until all three had done it," said Cromwell.
Ali was admitted to the child and youth psychiatry ward (Barn- och ungdomspsykiatrin, BUP) for the first time in April this year shortly after his application for residency in Sweden had been denied.
“When we got the rejection they phoned us from his accommodation. Then he had sewed up his mouth. We took him to hospital and he was admitted to BUP,” Cromwell told SR.
“It was a terrible, symbolic action.”
Last week Ali was arrested by border police but deemed to be in such an unstable mental state that he was handed back to BUP.
However, after his case was brought to the attention of a prominent Migration Board official, the agency decided that they would re-open his case and contacted the police.
“We gave the police a chance to hand the case back to us. But it would seem that a police official with decision-making authority has made a different assessment,” said Fredrik Beijer of the Migration Board to SR.
Despite the new revelations and the boys fragile mental state, the Migration Board nevertheless opted not to formally intervene to stop the deportation.
"The Migration Board hasn't issued a formal request to the police to have the case sent back to us," Migration Board spokesperson Fredrik Bengtsson told TT.
He explained that the new information isn't sufficient to have the agency act to stop the deportation.
Cecilia Wikström, a Swedish Member of the European Parliament from the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) who works on asylum issues, said the case made her sick to her stomach.
"It's ironic that with all this hard work behind me that I can read of a humanitarian catastrophe in my own country," she told the Aftonbladet newspaper.
"This is a 15-year-old boy. An unaccompanied refugee minor. He should be treated like a child and receive special treatment in Sweden. He's had unbelievably traumatic experiences."
According to Wikström, migration and police officials in Sweden should refer to the Geneva Convention and consider the definition of a child.
"You can't treat a child like this in any EU member state. Sweden's had continually been beating the drum when it comes to human rights and we should continue to do so. Therefore things like this shouldn't happen," she told the paper.
Despite the Migration Board's decision not to intervene, Ali's deportation to Italy is still contingent on a doctor certifying he is medically fit.