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Migration Agency suspicious of Syrian passports, due to forgery concerns

Updated måndag 16 november 2015 kl 16.35
Published måndag 16 november 2015 kl 10.34
File photo: Charlie Egan/flickr.com
File photo: Charlie Egan/flickr.com

Sweden's Migration Agency is considering giving less weight to Syrian passports as a valid proof of identity, as the Islamic State terrorist group is manufacturing and selling them on the black market.

According to Sweden's public broadcaster SVT's program Agenda, anyone can take advantage of the chaotic situation in Syria to buy a new identity online.

"As far as I can see, it's a pretty open market when it comes to the trade of these IDs. It's most likely not only passports, but also other types of identification. This is nothing new to us," Jan Westman, head of biometrics and ID analysis at the Migration Agency, tells SVT.

The Migration Agency's ID analysis unit employs experts in fake stamps and fingerprints.

"We handle an average 1,200 cases every week, and each case usually includes two IDs. So we look through almost 2,500 documents in this unit every week," Westmar says.

About five percent of all IDs prove to be forged. Some of them are flawless and experts can therefore not distinguish them from valid documents issued by Syrian authorities.

"This is about IS doing 'big business' and making money by selling them," Westmar says.

IS and other groups have gotten hold of the technology needed to manufacture Syrian identifications and now the European Union is weighing the possibility of not accepting them.

"This is definitely being discussed, whether we should question all Syrian passports, since we can't trust the process by which they've been issued," Westmar says.

According to SVT, many refugees from other countries claim to be Syrian, as this could make their application process easier.

38,000 asylum seekers in Sweden have claimed to be Syrian this year. If Swedish authorities end up not accepting Syrian passports, this would complicate asylum investigations for the Migration Agency, which is already under strain, SVT reports.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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