Migration board “blocking good asylum lawyers”

The legal representation offered to asylum seekers by the Swedish Board of Migration is below acceptable standards.

That’s according to the chairman of the Swedish human rights organisation ‘Advokater utan gränser’ (Lawyers without Borders), Kenneth Lewis, who has demanded that the right to elect asylum seekers’ legal assistance be taken away from the Board.

Writing in Friday’s Dagens Nyheter, Lewis argued that the Board of Migration “has at its disposal an insidious instrument” with which it can “direct the asylum process”.

Pointing out that the Board appoints the legal representation who will then argue against it in asylum proceedings, Lewis claimed that the Board had declined to recommend lawyers known to be tough opponents.

“The Board of Migration is thought to avoid appointing public lawyers who are knowledgeable, skilful or engaged. The asylum seeker gets a state representative who is not capable of, or interested in, ensuring his client’s best interests,” he wrote.

Lewis said that the lawyers provided by the Board often omitted to take into account relevant evidence, such as police sources, torture documentation and conditions in the home country. He added that the possibility of a newly arrived refugee finding his or her own legal representation, who was skilled in this area, was very small.

The solution, according to Advokater utan gränser, is for the right to appoint asylum seekers’ legal representation to be removed from the Board of Migration.

“We propose a return to the previous set-up, where the legal aid authority oversees state legal assistance. That would put right many of the problems with the current system,” wrote Kenneth Lewis.

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