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Man ages 12 years after Swedish court decision

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11:00 CEST+02:00
A Swedish court has ruled that a Cambodian man should be allowed to change his Tax Agency (Skatteverket) birth date records, thereby adding 12 years to his age.

The man told the court that after 10 years in Sweden he felt sufficiently secure to register his correct date of birth and establish his true identity.

The court was told that the UN refugee organ the UNHCR had helped him to secure his release from the military prison in Cambodia where he had been interred as a political prisoner, formally on suspicion of involvement in a plot to murder the prime minister Hun Sen.

On release from prison the man feared for his life and he fled to Thailand where the UNHCR deemed him to be in acute need of leaving south-east Asia and arrangements were made for him to come to Sweden as a so-called quota refugee in 2000.

The Resettlement Registration Form submitted by the man to the UNHCR formed the basis of the information that was handed over to the Swedish authorities on his arrival in July 2000, establishing his date of birth as January 1st 1960.

After settling in Sweden the man sought to have his information amended to reflect his correct birth date of August 12th 1947 but the tax agency, which is responsible for personal identification registration in Sweden, refused on the grounds that the proof submitted was not sufficiently reliable.

The man explained to the court that he had decided to submit deliberately erroneous information to the UNHCR in order to make it harder for the Cambodian authorities to track him and hinder the perceived threat of arrest by Thai police.

The administrative court of appeal (Kammarrätten) has now ruled that the wealth of evidence supporting the man's case - including a release form from Cambodian military prison, copies of an identification card, human rights card and press card, a 1991 certificate from the Vietnamese embassy in Cambodia, several newspaper articles and a Cambodian family book - is at least as comparable with the original UNHCR forms.

The court thus overturned a county administrative court (Länsrätten) ruling to uphold the tax agency's decision.

"The court considers that it should be sufficient if on assessment the new details appear to be correct when compared to the older information and taking into account the wider circumstances," the court stated.

"Existing erroneous information is just as false as new erroneous information," the court added.

The court found that the man had plausible grounds for wanting to hide his real identity details in the "Resettlement Registration Form" submitted to the UNHCR in June 2000.

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