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Swedish firms risk fines after refugees caught without IDs

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ID checks at Copenhagen Airport's train station. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT
07:40 CET+01:00
Transport firms risk heavy fines for letting refugees into Sweden despite them not showing IDs, after police said they believed 33 people so far have crossed the border without proper documentation.

Sweden ordered all public transport companies to carry out ID checks of all passengers crossing the border at the start of the year, in a bid to slash a record influx of refugees travelling to the country.

It followed a couple of months after police imposed their own border controls, which are still in place. The Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper reported on Thursday that police in the southern region of Skåne have so far caught 33 people at their own checkpoints in Malmö without valid ID documents.

One of the incidents involves a young Somalian boy who was found locked inside a bus toilet by police when they stopped the vehicle at the checkpoints on the Öresund bridge on January 7th.

SvD reported that the Swedish bus driver had discovered just after departure in Germany that the boy did not carry ID, but said that the boy refused to leave. It was -12C at the time, so the driver is understood to have decided not to throw him off the bus. The company now risks being fined 50,000 kronor ($6,000).

Border police believe that some of the people wanting to seek asylum in Sweden cross the border with valid ID, but then either destroy or hide the documents from Swedish authorities.

However, 20 of the cases where the transport firms are suspected of being at fault have now been passed on to the Swedish Transport Administration (Transportstyrelsen), which is investigating whether or not to fine the companies.

“We want to see if the transport company has taken responsibility for what it has been assigned with. I assume that their account of how they have organized and are carrying out ID checks could be interesting to us,” Rainer Nilsson of the Transport Administation told the SvD newspaper.

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Sweden took in an unprecedented 163,000 asylum seekers last year, but the numbers have dropped sharply since it introduced border and ID checks and tightened its asylum rules, from more than 10,000 a week back in October to around 500-600 in the past seven days.

The ID checks have been heavily criticized by commuters, including in some cases Swedish citizens who have found themselves refused entry back into their country by ID officers not recognizing their documents.

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