According to the Swedish Migration Board there are between 50 and 100 “relatively certain” cases in Sweden, from countries such as Iran, the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. But Hans Ölvebro, the National Criminal Investigation Department’s war crimes officer told news agency TT that that is wildly underestimating the reality.
“Why should it be any different here than, say, the Netherlands, a similar country which takes in many refugees? There they have calculated that they have 1,500 war criminals among their refugees,” he said.
Ölvebro’s comments appear to be supported by evidence from Swedish Radio’s Ekot programme, which has carried out an investigation into the Swedish Migration Board’s practice.
The board’s regulations state that refugees who are suspected of war crimes or other serious crimes in their home country should be reported to the police. But Ekot found that in the vast majority of cases these rules are ignored.
At Ekot’s request, the Migration Board went through 42 of the 53 current cases in which the asylum seeker has been classified as a war criminal. Only one case had been reported to the police.
Among those people who had not been reported to the police are former members of the Afghan secret service, Khad. The Dutch foreign office says that Khad was responsible for the deaths of “around 50,000 people, many of whom were tortured to death”. Several ministers from Khad are now living in Sweden.
“Our position has always been that if the Migration Board considers that a person has committed a crime against humanity then they should make a report to the prosecutor,” said Hans Ölvebro.
Christer Svan, from the asylum section at the Migration Board, said that this was a question for the justice authorities, but acknowledged that there was not much they could do if the cases were not reported.
“We have dealt with this in our regulations and in our handbook. It’s also included in our training. It’s something that ought to be done. If it is the case that it has only been done in one case, then that’s not good,” said Svan.
“But at the same time, you’ve got to remember that this is only very few cases,” he added.
Justice Minister Thomas Bodström told TT that he did not think Sweden had become a haven for war criminals.
“But on the other hand it’s obvious that people could come to Sweden, like other countries, to try to avoid responsibility,” he said.