• Sweden edition
 
Asylum seekers' legal reps often underqualified

Asylum seekers' legal reps often underqualified

Published: 01 Nov 2012 17:28 GMT+01:00
Updated: 01 Nov 2012 17:28 GMT+01:00

Sweden's Migration Board (Migrationsverket) has been slammed for "serious deficiencies" in how it assigns public defenders to asylum seekers, thousands of whom are forced to fight deportation battles with representatives who lack law degrees.

"The Migration Board's handling of public defenders isn't legally sound and risks assigning asylum seekers representatives who aren't suited for the task," Yvonne Gustafsson, head of The Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret), said in a statement.

In a report presented on Wednesday to Migration Minister Tobias Billström, the agency criticized the Migration Board's process for assessing the competence of potential public defenders as being haphazard and uneven.

The report found that of the roughly 1,200 people who currently act as public defenders for asylum seekers, around 200 lack legal degrees.

"The reality is that you or I or the guy who runs the sausage stand down the street can be on the Migration Board's list of public defenders," Peter Ehn, an investigator at the Agency for Public Management told The Local.

Last year, non-lawyers handled 4,300 of the 18,000 asylum cases in which a public defender was assigned by the Migration Board.

"The problem was much bigger than we first realized," said Ehn, who added that his agency's analysis focused more on the process used for assigning public defenders, rather than their individual performance.

"Most of them are trained lawyers who are well-equipped to handle asylum cases," he said.

"But the problem is that the criteria and processes used vary widely from one Migration Board office to another."

While the migration agency has developed guidelines for how public defenders are assigned, it has failed to implement the principles evenly across the entire agency.

"The result is that there is no consistency or unity in assessing the suitability of public defenders who work on asylum cases," said Ehn.

"Even if most representatives are good, even a few cases of unqualified people can have disasterous legal consequences."

A "black list" put together by the Migration Board currently includes 22 names, including a representative who fell asleep during his client's hearing and another who wrote derogatory comments about Muslims on his personal blog.

Attorney Hans Bredberg, who has represented a number of asylum seekers, agreed with the criticism leveled at the Migration Board.

"The Migration Board chooses from a long list and it most often chooses the cheapest legal representative, which is the most effective from its point of view," Bredberg told the TT news agency.

According to the Agency for Public Management, one way to improve the situation would be to have Sweden's Legal Aid Authority (Rättshjälpsmyndigheten) review the credentials of all public defenders who lack a legal degree, rather than have the review carried out by local Migration Board offices.

"We think this would be a relatively quick and easy step to implement," said Ehn.

Migration Board general counsel Mikael Ribbenvik admitted that improvements could be made to how his agency assesses and assigns legal representation to asylum seekers.

"It's not good that the central guidelines aren't followed by different divisions," he told TT.

He explained, however, that privacy concerns raised by the Data Protection Board (Datatinspektionen) have hampered previous efforts by the Migration Board to compile and distribute information about public defenders throughout the agency.

"We'd be happy to have the Legal Aid Authority take over responsibility for checking up on legal representatives; it's a wise approach, but they'll likely run into the same problems with the Date Inspection Board," said Ribbenvik.

David Landes/TT

Follow David Landes on Twitter

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

10:41 November 3, 2012 by themoron
themoron says:

Only the asylum seekers' legal representatives are often underqualified? No way. Swedes also suffer from the bunch of so-called legal representatives who not only have not a basic knowledge in laws, but who to not think properly and whose intellect is way beyond a normal one. They are individuals who accepted that job because they would not make it someplace else. The Inmigration Board of Sweden is not only responsible of this, but the whole legal system is Sweden is.
Today's headlines
Sponsored Article
On the move: Sweden's shifting mobility trends
House keys: Shutterstock.

On the move: Sweden's shifting mobility trends

Finding somewhere to live when you move to Sweden is a challenge. With changes afoot The Local caught up with an expert from letting agency Residensportalen to find out in what direction the market is going, and how Google Glasses may just help you find your dream home. READ () »

The Local List
Ten most disgusting Swedish foods
Salty liquorice, anyone? Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Ten most disgusting Swedish foods

Swedish food is, of course, a matter of taste. But it's mostly disgusting. Our loyal followers on Twitter and Facebook shared what they thought were the worst of them all. READ () »

Sweden wants cruise missiles 'for defence'
Defence Minister Karin Enström. File photo: TT

Sweden wants cruise missiles 'for defence'

The Swedish government has announced plans to beef up its defence forces by fitting its fleet of Gripen fighter jets with long-range cruise missiles. READ () »

Swede of the Week
Sweden's oldest would-be MP: 'They promised I wouldn't get in'
Swedes vote in the 2010 elections. File photo: Dan Hansson/TT

Sweden's oldest would-be MP: 'They promised I wouldn't get in'

Gösta Arvedson, 89, is the oldest Riksdag candidate in Sweden, but our Swede of the Week explains that the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) had to make some unusual promises for him to put his name forward. READ () »

Elections 2014
Most Swedes lack info ahead of EU vote
The Green Party is one of only two parties devoting their websites to the EU elections. Here campaign manager Emma Rung presents the party's posters. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

Most Swedes lack info ahead of EU vote

The majority of Swedes feel the country's political parties are not doing enough to inform them about the upcoming European Parliament elections. Only two of the eight parties have dedicated their homepages to the May 25th polls. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping Brawl
Local church tried to stop Norrköping murders
Swedish police on the scene following Monday's fatal brawl. File: TT

Local church tried to stop Norrköping murders

The Syrian-Orthodox Church in Ektorp had tried to quell tensions between two rival families just hours before bad blood spilled into a massive brawl and two brothers lost their lives. READ () »

JobTalk Sweden
'Foreigners don't need to show banks Swedish ID'
The bridge that connects Sweden to the European continent. File: L.E. Daniel Larsson/Flickr

'Foreigners don't need to show banks Swedish ID'

The Swedish agency that helps Europeans fight impediments to the EU principle of free movement has revealed an increase in complaints, including one from a foreign citizen unable to open a bank account in Sweden. READ () »

Eurovision 2014
Pig heart shatters in Sweden's Eurovision clip
Sanna Nielsen in the new clip. Photo: YouTube (screenshot)

Pig heart shatters in Sweden's Eurovision clip

Sweden's Eurovision hopeful Sanna Nielsen released the official video for the song Undo on Wednesday, a clip featuring leather, slow motion destruction, and a frozen pig's heart and some violence. READ () »

Software robot pinches Swedish flats in seconds
Swedish apartments. File: The Local

Software robot pinches Swedish flats in seconds

A Swedish landlord suspects that a property fixer has set up a software robot to sign up for new flats on the market within seconds, and is charging house hunters to use the service. READ () »

Swedish zoo fire 'kills only the spiders'
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Swedish zoo fire 'kills only the spiders'

Twenty-five fire fighters were on hand on Wednesday night when a fire broke out in a southern Sweden animal park. The vast majority of the animals were unharmed, but the cluster of spiders wasn't so lucky. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
On the move: Sweden's shifting mobility trends
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 23
TT
Gallery
Inside the 850-year-old king's coffin
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Advertisement:
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

718
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com