Minister: No legal exemptions for human smuggling
Migration Minister Morgan Johansson said the government is not open to allowing so-called humanitarian or not-for-profit forms of human smuggling, saying such an exemption would actively work against what Sweden is trying to achieve.
On Thursday, Swedish prosecutors called out for guidelines on how to deal with smuggling cases where individuals are caught helping others, mainly asylum seekers, reach Sweden. Unlike traditional human smuggling cases these suspects did not demand payment.
Some EU countries do offer a legal exception for people who bring in refugee without making money off it, but Sweden will not be one of those nations, the minister told Swedish Radio.
"No, I do not like it because it would go in the opposite direction of what we want to achieve That is a more equitable distribution of refugees in the EU," Johansson said.
According to the Swedish Aliens Act, human smuggling happens when someone helps others illegally cross an internal border of the EU. This also applies if they want to help a person to seek asylum in another country, and even if they do not charge for it.
Johansson said granting immunity in cases where suspect's motives are humanitarian would land Sweden in the same problem it had last year when thousands of people traveled across Europe to seek refuge in Sweden.
"This would, in practice, allow people to choose the country they wish to seek asylum in. I mean, Germany is a safe country, as well as Denmark. If you find yourself there then you must apply for asylum there," Johansson said.
As EU rules stand now migrants must apply for asylum in the first EU country they reach instead of transiting through the continent.
Instances of human smuggling have risen dramatically since thousands of migrants have come to Europe seeking a new life. Last year when Sweden registered some 163,000 asylum seekers more than 60 people were prosecuted in Sweden in human smuggling cases and another 29 people met the same fate up until March of this year. In 2014 authorities prosecuted a total of 17 people.
Most of the cases came from southern Sweden where the majority of refugees try to enter the country via the Öresund Bridge, which links Sweden with Denmark.
Nowadays many of the cases involve offenders helping refugees across the border without being paid for it.