Amnesty International Report 2006 - Sweden
|Publication Date||23 May 2006|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2006 - Sweden, 23 May 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/447ff7b939.html [accessed 24 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Decisions by the Swedish authorities to deport foreign nationals were criticized by international human rights bodies. Asylum-determination procedures continued to fall below international standards.
In May the UN Committee against Torture concluded that the Swedish authorities' decision to deport a Bangladeshi woman and her daughter to Bangladesh would amount to a breach of Sweden's obligation not to forcibly return a person to another state where they would be at risk of torture. The woman and her then four-year-old daughter had applied for asylum in Sweden in 2000. The Committee noted that the Swedish authorities had not contested the fact that she had been persecuted, detained and tortured, including by being raped. However, the Swedish immigration authorities considered that she had been raped by individual police officers, and had thus concluded that the culprits' actions were not sufficient to establish the responsibility of the Bangladeshi authorities.
In November, the European Court of Human Rights held unanimously that the deportation of four members of a Syrian family to Syria would amount to a violation of their right to life and of the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment. The case concerned a Syrian national and his family who had been refused asylum in Sweden on several occasions. In 2003 the principal applicant had been convicted in absentia by a Syrian court of complicity in a murder, and sentenced to death. Citing AI and other sources the European Court of Human Rights stressed that the death penalty was enforced for serious crimes in Syria. In spite of this, the Swedish authorities had considered that, upon his return to Syria, his case would be reopened and a retrial granted and had thus concluded that the family were not in need of protection.
'War on terror' deportations
In May the UN Committee against Torture concluded that the Swedish government's expulsion of Ahmed Hussein Mustafa Kamil Agiza from Sweden to Egypt in 2001 breached the prohibition of refoulement. The Committee considered that the Swedish government knew, or should have known, at the time of the complainant's removal that the Egyptian authorities resorted to consistent and widespread use of torture against detainees and that the risk of such treatment was particularly high in the case of detainees held for political and security reasons.
The Committee noted that the diplomatic assurances procured by the Swedish government provided no mechanism for their enforcement, and concluded that they did not suffice to protect against the manifest risk of torture. The Committee recalled that the prohibition of refoulement was absolute, even in the context of counter-terrorism measures. The Committee further stated that the Swedish government had also breached its obligations under the Convention by neither disclosing to the Committee relevant information nor presenting its concerns to the Committee for an appropriate procedural decision.
The parliamentary Constitutional Committee concluded in September that the Swedish government should not have accepted the Egyptian authorities' diplomatic assurances, and that therefore it should not have expelled Muhammad Muhammad Suleiman Ibrahim El-Zari and Ahmed Hussein Mustafa Kamil Agiza to Egypt in December 2001. Hanan Attia, Ahmed Hussein Mustafa Kamil Agiza's wife, and her five children were granted refugee status according to the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
Refugees and asylum-seekers
The Swedish authorities continued to consider a broad range of asylum applications to be "manifestly unfounded", including those from Romani applicants. The accelerated asylum-determination procedures fell far short of international standards for refugee protection. The asylum applicants were not given a full asylum interview and were, among other things, denied access to legal aid. In addition, those whose claims had been rejected could be forcibly returned to their home countries or a third country pending appeal against an initial rejection of their claim.
Violence against women
In March, the government decided to establish a commission to investigate why certain municipalities had action plans for addressing violence against women while others did not. The commission was also to consider ways in which to make the municipalities assume responsibility for supporting women who had been subjected to violence, including women with special needs. The results of the commission's work were to be announced in June 2006.
Overcrowding in remand detention continued to be of concern despite several measures taken by the Swedish authorities to improve the situation. Reports of detainees having to share cells intended for single occupancy continued. The number of complaints received by the Justice Ombudsman regarding the treatment of detainees was higher than in recent years.