Amnesty slams Swedish deportations

Amnesty International has criticized Sweden for a number of controversial decisions to deport refugees in its 2005 annual report.

The human rights organization points to a deportation for which Sweden was found to have broken the United Nations’ torture convention and another that was found illegal by the European Court of Human Rights.

In May 2005 Sweden was slammed by the UN’s Committee against Torture for deporting a Bangladeshi woman and her daughter back to their homeland. The woman had applied for asylum in Sweden in 2000. The Swedish Migration Board did not contest the woman’s claim that she had been imprisoned, tortured and raped.

But the board, and later the now-defunct Alien Appeals Board, said that the rape had been committed by an individual policeman and could not be blamed on Bangladesh as such.

In November last year a unanimous European Court of Human Rights found against Sweden over the deportation of a Syrian family.

A man and his family had repeatedly been denied asylum. He had been convicted in his absence for allegedly taking part in a 2003 murder, and sentenced to death. Swedish authorities claimed that his case would be re-examined when he got back to Syria, and that the family therefore did not need Sweden’s protection.

Amnesty also criticizes Sweden’s practice of immediately deporting people with “obviously unfounded” claims to asylum. This procedure falls well short of international standards, the organization claims.

The human rights organization also said it is worried by continued overcrowding in Swedish prisons, and noted that complaints to the Justice Ombudsman over cramped conditions have increased in recent years.

The government’s decision to investigate why certain municipalities do not have action plans to tackle violence against women is also mentioned in the report.

Another issue brought up by Amnesty is the well-publicized case of the 2001 deportation of two Egyptian asylum-seekers. The organization cites the parliamentary Constitution Committee’s conclusion that the two should not have been deported, and that the diplomatic guarantee from Egypt not to torture the men should not have been accepted.

Amnesty pointed to the UN Committee against Torture’s conclusions from May 2005 to support its condemnation of the deportations.