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UN slams Sweden for child rights failure

David Landes · 27 May 2009, 14:45

Published: 27 May 2009 14:45 GMT+02:00

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As a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child (CRC), Sweden must guarantee children a number of human rights to ensure they can “develop to their full potential”, including the right to primary education.

But the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has criticized Sweden several times for failing to provide education to all children living in Sweden, according to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

At issue is the status of children in Sweden who have had their refugee status claims rejected and are due to be deported.

While the government examined the matter in a 2007 report, many child advocacy groups criticized the report for a lack of comprehensiveness.

The groups, which include Save the Children, the Swedish Church, and the Swedish Paediatric Society (Svenska barnläkarföreningen), are also upset with what they see as the government’s failure to prioritize the issue at the same time as children continue to suffer.

“Now the same question is up for the third time in front of the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child,” said Henry Ascher, chair of the paediatric association’s working group for refugee children, to DN.

“We paediatricians who deal with asylum seekers and children in hiding see what an enormous difference there is between children who go to school and those who live in dark apartments with curtains drawn together with parents who aren’t doing well.”

In a response to the latest inquiry from the UN, the Swedish government said it plans to review and update the 2007 report and on Wednesday, Karin Johansson, a state secretary under social affairs minister Göran Hägglund, will testify before the UN’s children’s committee.

While the previous report included a number of proposed changes to Swedish law, it failed to address the issue education access for “paperless” children, who often times go into hiding with their families to avoid being deported, or who have not applied for residence permits because their parents also reside in Sweden without proper permits.

While Sweden doesn’t prohibit “paperless” children from attending school or preschool, a lack of clear regulations usually result in individual teachers or principals deciding which children are accepted.

Another issue is that schools aren’t considered safe zones, which means children in hiding or their parents could be taken by police while on school grounds.

Story continues below…

While police rarely take advantage of the situation, it can happen, according to Save the Children’s Sanna Vestin.

“Just the knowledge that police have the right to do it means that certain parents don’t dare let their children attend school,” she told the newspaper.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:49 May 27, 2009 by Xzion
it is problam of ethnocentric policy of sweden, i am sorry to say but in sweden genral concept of diversity means diversity between man and women but there are other subjects of diversity like religion, culture, values.

sweden is greate nation but immirants dont belong from this culture, if sweden can provide trust to them then i am sure this problam can be solved , and this diversity issues is not just in schools but almost at university level

Time has changed and EU should work on sustainable socity with rich cultuers, give respect to Globlization
15:04 May 27, 2009 by antoniolgj
So again UN slams Sweden for not give even more money to asylum seekers, how unexpected...

How about say to those people to stay in home than. In there probably they would have a much better life, wouldn't they?

Tony Garcia.
15:22 May 27, 2009 by DAVID T
If they are in hiding then of course they won't go to school
15:22 May 27, 2009 by Dazzler
I guess I dont understand what the issue is. If a family is set to be deported, why bother with education? Or is this just another case at throwing money at a non existant problem?

Moreover, arent the families braking laws being in hiding in the first place??
16:47 May 27, 2009 by Eurostan
in fact the above said problem is vague.as know some 10 years ago many people moved to sweden as refugees and they learnt much about swedish system. according to swedish system who is below 18 years age is treated as child. many PAPERLESS young people came to sweden through smugglers. they always say they are less than 18 years so must be treated as child.

how UN people able to say that they are children and at the same time they are PAPERLESS?
17:09 May 27, 2009 by odinmp5
the ones i know that dont go to school.. i s because they dont want to.

all they want tis to listen to hip hop all day and smoke a joint.
17:44 May 27, 2009 by Bender B Rodriquez
Exactly! If there are going to be deported they should be thrown out immediately! or shot...
18:04 May 27, 2009 by freethinker
This is really a non issue. The kids not going to school belong to families about to be deported, and they go into hiding. While this is sad I do not see why Sweden should be penalized for people's criminal behavior. Attempting to remain in a country illegally once the invitation to stay has been revoked is unlawful. By all means, the kids part of families in hiding to avoid deportation or a repercussion from a crime should be taken into custody. That's common sense. I do not see why criminal behavior should be rewarded.
18:12 May 27, 2009 by Xzion
Indeed paperless peopple are problam and they are also in problam, sweden invited refugues for few econimic insentives from UN and US and it was also sutable arguments for limited suport in war on terror.

now situations has changed and suddnly there is no war on terror but there should be some plane of recovery, but what about human rights their loss.

until US will play this game this smugling can not be stoped because of economic incentives of both side, all we can do to learn, live in love and recognise cltuers with respect. OR tell US Stop it ! and you are sending all asylam seeker to US land :) D:
18:41 May 27, 2009 by diverse
they are not a problem these people are moving for a reason,if your country in a war and need help wouldn't you expect other nations to help you? I am sorry most of the comment here sounds very arrogant, whatever happenned these are human beings not animals. Some of us treat our pets better than the immigrants. If you guys are so concerned about immigrants taking advantage of the system then closed the border don't tell the world that swedish is the only country that accept so many immigrants and when they are here they were subjected to racism and discrimination. I trully hope one day the world will turn around and see what happens.
19:56 May 27, 2009 by Eurostan
i think sweden should follow saudi arabia or britan when it comes to immmigration.do not give citizenship to immigrants under any cicumstances like fake marriages or refugees or asylem seekers.

it would be good to give citizenship for the people who payed double tax compared to average swedish man.

otherwise swedish people will see in the future more incidents like rosengård and a lot of vandalism.
19:57 May 27, 2009 by freethinker
Xzion, Diverse, what does the US have to do with non Swedish nationals being deported from Sweden? When refuges were invited to Sweden I'm fairly certain that the Swedes expected refuges to respect their laws.

I agree that people in countries where war and bloodshed are prevalent would want to move to a more peaceful enviroment, yet such individuals would also need to respect the country and people that accept them.

Racism in Sweden? you both imply that Sweden mistreats immegrants. Individuals may, yet for the most part Sweden is extreamly open minded about other cultures. If there is a fault with Sweden it may be that perhaps they are too open minded. What I mean by this is that people going to Sweden should be made to undestand that the rule of law must be respected, and that they are in Sweden not where they came from. You imply that it's racism to ask that people moving to Sweden respect Swedish Culture and law. That is "not" racism that is common sense.
22:02 May 27, 2009 by byke
I am glad this has been brought up. What we need to understand is this is just the tip of the iceberg and doesn't just effect "refugees / immigrants". 2 years ago the swedish government brought in new laws that blocked education for children in languages other than swedish. Its a very complicated situation as sweden breaches so many of the fundamental human rights of a child such as article 2. Hopefully the government and skolverket can get the kick up the arse they need, as at present children of foreign nationality are only considered as cheap future labour for sweden.
22:13 May 27, 2009 by moonflower
Sweden is not a paradise on earth for immigrants, but we do, overall, threat our immigrants exceptionably well. If anyone disagrees, imagine being an immigrant in Eastern Europe or outside Europe where new arrivers enjoy very few of the priviliges we offer. Sweden has poured a lot of money into our new citizens by giving them the opportunity to educate themselves. Yes, we do have prejudice against immigrants in this country. But be realistic, so do most countries. In regard to refugees, it might not be the most ethical decision, but truthfully, they are breaking Swedish law. Schools should educate children, not be a sanctuary for political refugees.
00:01 May 28, 2009 by Eurostan
i heard before that some muslim girls refused to take swimming classes in swedish schools!!!!. and some sikh students refused to remove turbans from head, some muslim girls refused to remove veils in the schools.

now some immigrants refused to go through the education in swedsih.may be they want education in ARABIC.

a person who is not able to eat swedish food like pork and beef he must go back to his home country.

i have seen people in london who are not able to speak english even they are staying there for 20 years.

that why sweden made a law that in swedsh schools only swedish is allowed.. even it is better banning talking other languages.
09:25 May 28, 2009 by Jasoncarter
I'm going to use a print out of this thread to back up the discussion I was having with my wife the other night about 'why the internet has made the world a stupider and more annoying place'.
10:47 May 28, 2009 by Xzion
it is non-Islamic and against modern ethics, every body can have opinion, give respect to every body, a man may take a moment or years to recognize the truth, man deserve respect.
11:32 May 28, 2009 by Miss Kitten
All the inflammatory off-topic posts have been removed from this thread. Behave yourselves or face the banhammer.
11:41 May 28, 2009 by Kaethar
That's ridiculous. Why reward someone for illegal behaviour? Of course, given the other article Sweden is being extremely slow in deportations. So it's good they're being pressured to educate these kids - maybe the extra cost will convince them to deport illegal immigrants faster. If someone is not a real refugee they have no right to stay and get educated in Sweden, no matter what Amnesty says. There are nearly 800 million illiterate people in the world. Sweden is a country of 9 million. You do the math. Amnesty should do more work in raising standards in poor countries around the world instead of supporting illegal behaviour in more developed countries.
11:42 May 28, 2009 by Princess P
My daughter goes to a Swedish school where half the lessons are in English. In August she is going to a different Swedish school where some of the lessons are available in Arabic for those that want them.
11:43 May 28, 2009 by Nutcracker
Every Western nation is facing increasing problems from illegal aliens and no country should be singled out for criticism of failing to provide education to those who, with their families, are to be deported. As to learning Swedish, this is logical and it is the case in all countries that children achieve better results in school when they know the native language. When schools make the mistake of providing education in a secondary language to accommodate non-native speakers, those children are delayed in their education. The real problem is that their parents must be also committed to learning the language so the children have encouragement at home and can also help their parents to learn. Everybody - parents, children and schools, must be determined to learn, converse and teach in the native language.
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