Thomas Hammarberg

Commissioner Slams Asylum Decision

A human rights commissioner has criticized the Migration Board's decision to extradite an asylum seeker to Iraq, even after his brother was decapitated by extremists.

Sweden received cricitism for its extradition processes last week when it was revealed that 56 asylum seekers had been sent back to Baghdad from Sweden and other European countries. The United Nations said the security situation in Iraq was still too volatile, but despite that assessment, the Swedish Migration Board is continuing to require a higher standard for granting asylum. Iraqi asylum seekers must demonstrate a clear, personal threat to their lives.

But the interpretation of that standard has come into question after a man called Riyad was denied asylum in Sweden. Riyad, a Christian Assyrian, worked at a store on a United States Army base in Iraq. In 2004 Riyad's brother, who also worked at the store and as an interpreter for the US Army as well, was kidnapped and decapitated by Islamic extremists who videotaped the murder and spread the video as a warning to American sympathizers. Riyad was also threatened. But the Swedish Immigration Court ruled against his application for asylum.

Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, said he doesn't understand why Riyad's asylum application was denied.

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