"Reducing refugees would break the law"

7:08 min

As the Sweden Democrats say they can save billions by sharply cutting immigration, legal expert Louise Dane says the only way to accept fewer refugees is to break international law.

"Seeking protection, and being granted protection, is a universal human right," says Louise Dane to Radio Sweden.

Sweden is currently seeing more asylum seekers than at any time since the Second World War.

According to the Swedish Board of Migration, we can expect maybe around 100,000 new asylum seekers every year over the next few years, and there has been talk of the need for more housing, and for new arrivals to be spread more fairly across local areas.

"As long as people make it to Sweden and apply for asylum, as long as they're entitled to it, we have to grant them it. The only way the Sweden Democrats could do what they are talking about would be to keep refugees from coming to Sweden. Which is practically being done by the European Union, and the strong border regulations we have to keep people out of the EU."

Most other countries in the EU allow far fewer asylum seekers to stay. Louise Dane says there are many and varying reasons which give the other countries a lower proportion of refugees. Some places have far fewer applications. Part of the answer is people tend to apply to a place where they already have a network of contacts. Other countries have better or worse reputations on how well they uphold the law and rules for how refugees are treated.

So a conceivable way to keep applicants away would be to lower Sweden's reputation.

"Making Sweden known as a country that is less legally secure. Treating people worse. Stopping people from reuniting with their families. That may lead to less people applying for asylum in Sweden, but it would also essentially break the European Union rules," says Louise Dane at Stockholm University.

Louise Dane is writing her PhD on how the asylum law meets the demand that the interests of the child must be prioritised.