Top parties step in to defend Iraqis

Politicians from Sweden's two largest parties have come out in favour of amending current legislation regarding asylum seekers. The move follows a Migration Board ruling on Thursday that could lead to thousands of Iraqis being sent back to the troubled southern and central parts of their homeland, including the capital Baghdad.

Under the new guidelines, refugees must be able to show that there is a specific threat against them if they are to be considered eligible for a permanent residence permit.

The head of the Migration Board, Dan Eliasson, based his decision on the Migration Court of Appeal’s assessment that Iraq is not currently involved in an armed conflict.

“There is good reason to reevaluate the legal meaning of the term ‘armed conflict’ and discuss whether it should also include the chaos and terror that we are now seeing in Iraq,” said Moderate Party MP Ulrika Karlsson. She added however that the party has not yet had time to form an official policy on the issue.

Göte Wahlström, Migration Board committee member and Social Democrat spokesman on asylum issues, was also critical of the new directive.

“I am concerned about this new stance, as it represents a marked change from our previous position with regard to Iraq. The only way we politicians can change this situation is by means of a legislative amendment,” he told news agency TT.

Initial reactions from the remaining parliamentary parties suggest that the Greens and Left Party would also support a legislative amendment, whereas the Liberals, the Centre Party and the Christian Democrats are opposed to such a change.