Legal matters

Few Oral Proceedings in Migration Courts

Asylum seekers who bring their cases to one of the three Migrations Courts in Sweden are seldom heard. Only a third of the cases brought to the courts last year allowed the asylum seekers to be heard. In other cases, the courts make their decision based on written material and testimonials.

This is a problem, not the least for the asylum seekers themselves, according to lawyer Hans Bredberg, whose claim for oral proceedings often get rejected. "They do not believe that that the judgement is according to rule of law, since they have not been there to put their case forward," says Hans Bredberg, in an interview with Swedish Radio.

The practice varies a bit between the different Migration Courts. The one in Stockholm uses oral testimonials only in a fifth of the cases, while the sister courts in Gothenburg and Malmö judge approximately half of their cases after having heard those involved.

The practice of few oral hearings in particular affects families with apathetic children, according to Ewa Wilks, who works with several families where the children are apathetic. She expresses concern that the migration courts do not get the full picture if they do not get to meet the families involved. "Sometimes they will look at what the doctor has written, but often the doctor's testimonials regarding these children vary a lot and often they are very bad because the doctors do not know what to write," she says.

The Migration Courts replaced the Aliens Appeals Board in 2006, partly as a way to allow for more oral proceedings.

Swedish Radio has interviewed Stockholm district court judge Richard Ljungqvist, who thinks that this also has happened. "I think we have found a reasonable balance. I very much appreciate oral proceedings. But we cannot have (oral) proceedings just for the sake of it," says Richard Ljungqvist.

According to Hans Bredberg, there is a merit in itself to have the Migration Authority and the asylum seeker to meet in court, making it clear that it is a two-part-process. "Otherwise the Migration Authority can write very short or non-existent reasons for their decision, and then they become impossible to understand," says Hans Bredberg.