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Iraq calls on Sweden to halt forced deportations

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Iraq calls on Sweden to halt forced deportations
10:33 CET+01:00
Iraq wants to put a stop to the forced deportation of Iraqis from Sweden after their asylum claims are rejected, but Sweden's migration minister sees no reason to adjust the practice.

Iraq's ambassador in Stockholm, Hussain al-Ameri, told Sveriges Radio his country wants to see an end to the forced deportations.

“The Iraqi government is ready to accept those who return voluntarily. But there are serious questions around forced deportations,” said the ambassador.

An agreement between Sweden and Iraq signed governing the return of Iraqis came into force in 2008. Since then, around 5,000 Iraqis have returned voluntarily, while more than 800 have been send back against their will, according the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

However, Iraq's Minister of Immigration & Immigrants, Dindar Najman Shaifiq al-Dosky, now wants to launch a dialogue with Sweden and other countries about the forcible return of Iraqi's who lose their bids for asylum.

According to the agreement, Iraqis who are deemed not to need protection and don't want to return voluntarily will be “ordered to leave Sweden”, but that the return to Iraq should occurred “step-wise, humanely, and in an organised manner”.

While Iraq has started to question Sweden's interpretation of the agreement on returns, Sweden's migration minister Tobias Billström sees no reason to stop the forced deportations, emphasising that Iraqis who aren't granted asylum in Sweden should leave.

“The cooperation between Swedish and Iraqi authorities has worked very well,” Billström told SvD, adding that Iraq hasn't requested the agreement be renegotiated.

Chartered flights carrying Iraqis back to their homeland from Sweden were stopped for several weeks earlier this winter following a request from the European Court of Human Rights, which was looking into appeals launched by would-be Iraqi refugees in Sweden who contested their deportation orders.

Flights resumed in mid-December however, with the next flight of Iraqis being forced to leave Sweden set to take off from Stockholm's Arlanda airport on January 19th, according to SvD.

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