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'No conflict in Iraq,' says Swedish court

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15:26 CEST+02:00
Sweden's Migration Court has turned down calls from a 51-year-old Iraqi man to overturn the Migration Board's decision to refuse him asylum. The man has not been able to prove that he is particularly vulnerable and in need of protection, according to the court.

In July, Migration Board boss Dan Eliasson came in for severe criticism for his decision to turn down the Baghdad native's asylum application. Under the new guidelines laid down by Eliasson, refugees must be able to show that there is a specific threat against them if they are to be considered eligible for permanent residency.

Thursday's decision was based on an interpretation of three Migration Court of Appeal decisions classifying the situation in Iraq as "difficult circumstances" rather than an "internal armed conflict".

According to the appeal court, the terrorist groups and armed militias currently operating in Iraq are not engaged in full-blown warfare either with the government or each other.

The Migration Court further pointed out that the number of deaths and violent incidents had decreased this year both in Baghdad and the rest of Iraq.

In his appeal, the 51-year-old argued that he was branded as an opponent of the Shia Muslim cause when he refused to take up arms. He also noted that his brother's decision to serve in the Iraqi army put him and his family at risk.

But the court ruled that the man's religious status did not entitle him to a residence permit as Shia Muslims constituted a majority in Iraq.

Despite producing a death warrant taken out against his brother, as well as photographs of his brother in the company of other armed men, he was not able to prove that there was a specific threat against him personally.

Should he choose to appeal the verdict to the Migration Court of Appeal, the eventual outcome could have wide implications regarding the court's view of the situation in Iraq.

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