Sweden broke torture ban during CIA deportation

Sweden broke the international ban on torture during the deportation of an Egyptian back to his home country in a CIA plane in December 2001.

Swedish officials just looked on while US agents mistreated Mohammad Alzery, along with fellow Eyptian Ahmed Agiza, at Stockholm’s Bromma Airport. This means that Sweden itself is responsible for the mistreatment, the committee says, and broke Article 7 of the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the country is a signatory.

“This is very serious indeed for Sweden,” said Anna Wigenmark, a lawyer at human rights group the Swedish Helsinki Committee, who represented Alzery at the UN.

“The core of the criticism is that when Sweden decided to deport Alzery, it broke the absolute international ban on torture,” she added.

Alzery and Agiza were deported on the US aircraft from Bromma Airport in Stockholm in December 2001. The Swedish government sent them back to Egypt despite having insufficient diplomatic guarantees that they would not be tortured upon his arrival, something Sweden has faced criticism for before, including last year from the UN Torture Committee.

This criticism was reiterated in the latest UN report, which concerned the case of Alzery. The report said Sweden is also responsible for ill-treatment meted out to him by CIA agents while at the Stockholm airport.

The committee points to the conclusion of Sweden’s Parliamentary Ombudsman, who said that the men were mistreated by American officials while on Swedish soil. It said that as the CIA agents carried out the mistreatment in Sweden and in the presence of Swedish officials, Sweden was responsible under international law for the abuse of the men.

The report said that it took two years for a Swedish prosecutor to take up the case, something that only happened after a private complaint to the police.

“There was never a full criminal investigation into the allegations of torture,” Wigenmark said.

“Nobody ever tried to bring the CIA agents to justice,” said Wigenmark.

Sweden has been given ninety days to tell the committee how it plans to prevent future violations and how it plans to provide compensation for Alzery.

The Helsinki Committee is calling for Alzery to be given a Swedish residence permit and to receive compensation for the suffering caused by his deportation.