Fury over ailing man's botched deportation
David Landes · 4 Jun 2009, 11:27
Published: 04 Jun 2009 11:27 GMT+02:00
“This has become a case of pure torture for this man, plain and simple, and now we need to take care of him in Sweden,” said Christian Democrat politician Alf Svensson to TV4.
John Olasupo, now 28-years-old, came to Sweden from Nigeria four years ago.
Within two years of his arrival, he started exhibiting signs of Parkinson’s, a degenerative neurological disease which impairs motor skills and generally occurs much later in life.
Now Olasupo’s condition has worsened to the point where he can no longer take care of himself, and is dependent on others to feed and take care of him.
“He’s too weak to open a medicine bottle, he’s too weak to take in water, he can’t drink if he doesn’t have help,” Tina Hennel, Olasupo’s legal representative, told TV4.
He is also taking drugs to help slow down the advancement of the disease – drugs which would be unavailable to Olasupo in Nigeria, according to Sveriges Radio.
“He can no longer move by himself or change his clothes and when he no longer has access to his medicine, he probably won’t be able to talk, eat, or swallow," said Bo Fråst, a doctor who has treated Olasupo at an asylum seeker reception centre in Sundsvall in northern Sweden.
"In unfavourable conditions, John Olasupo risks dying from starvation or dehydration,” Fråst told Sveriges Radio.
Concerned that Olasupo wouldn’t survive deportation to Nigeria, Fråst wrote a letter to the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket), urging it to allow Olasupo to remain in Sweden.
“According to Swedish law, it would probably be seen as a serious violent crime to leave someone to their fate when that person can’t take care of himself, but is instead left to die,” wrote Fråst.
The Migration Board was unmoved by the doctor’s plea, however, arguing that deportation rulings can’t be overturned simply because someone is dying, despite there being a clause that allows for exceptions on “extraordinary compassionate grounds”, such as a life-threatening illness.
According to Migration Board head Dan Eliasson, the mere presence of the right medicines in the home country is sufficient to carry out a deportation.
“We don’t need to be certain [that the patient will receive appropriate medication], rather it’s sufficient if there is healthcare available in the home country. If there is care available, then responsibility for the person is given to the home country,” he told TV4.
But Eilasson’s explanation failed to resonate with Svensson, who called the decision to deport Olasupo “scandalous”.
“If they interpret the law – and this is all about interpretation – such that a person in this condition can’t be allowed to stay in Sweden, then it’s high time to rewrite the law,” he told TV4.
Despite pleas to allow him to stay in Sweden, Olasupo was nevertheless put on a flight from Stockholm to Nigeria early on Wednesday morning.
But the 28-year-old’s time in his home country was short-lived.
Upon arriving in Nigerian, local authorities demanded that Olasupo pay to be let in the country and that Sweden provide funds to cover the costs of his healthcare needs – demands with which Swedish authorities refused to comply.
As a result, Olasupo was put back on a plane and found himself once again on Swedish soil by late Wednesday afternoon.
The Migration Board’s Annette Backlund placed responsibility for the botched deportation with the police, who are tasked with actually carrying out expulsions.
“This trip was planned and carried out by the police, and it’s the police’s job to have the necessary contacts to ensure that the trip can take place. We had no reason to believe that he wouldn’t be accepted by Nigeria,” she told TV4.
“The police have surely done, ought to have done, all that they can do to carry this out. Now something happened during the trip which we still don’t know about and when we have more information about what happened, we’ll reassess the matter again.”
Upon hearing the news, Svensson condemned Nigeria’s reaction, but added Swedish officials also bear some of the blame.
“Nigeria was wrong – a country should accept its citizens. But that doesn’t cut it as an excuse for Sweden,” he said.
“It’s inexcusable to use a simple explanation that they didn’t know how the Nigerians would react when they got there.”
Birgitta Krona, head of the Sundsvall asylum seekers' committee, was also upset by her client’s unexpected day-trip to Nigera.
"It’s a waste of money, and a waste of a human being’s last bit of strength,” she told TV4.
Upon landing again in Sweden, Olasupo was taken to a Migration Board facility in Märsta where he remains pending a new decision from migration officials about his future.