Serbian & Eritrean Refugees

Amnesty criticizes Sweden

5:32 min

The world-wide human rights organization Amnesty International has released its annual global report praising some progress in Northern Africa but criticising Sweden for not given Roma refugees from Serbia proper legal treatment and for sending asylum seekers from Eritrea back home despite the risks of human rights violations there.

Swedes in general have been shaken by being listed in the Amnesty report along with other countries notorious for their human rights violations.

Earlier Amnesty reports have blasted Sweden for not giving sufficient protection to young asylum seekers coming to this Nordic nation on their own and for the long solitary confinement of detainees waiting for their day in court - treatment classified as torture.

This year's 400-page report highlights discrimination that Roma asylum-seekers from Serbia and Kosovo face in the asylum process and the forced return of failed asylum-seekers to Eritrea and Iraq, against strong recommendations to the contrary by UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

According to Madelaine Seidlitz, legal advisor with Amnesty’s section in Stockholm, Sweden continues to return failed asylum-seekers to Iraq every three weeks. She says Amnesty not only disagrees with the outcome of individual cases in which Iraqis are denied asylum, but that the situation in many parts of Iraq is unsuitable for forced returns.

"Quite a number of the forcibly returned feel forced to flee the country again," Seidlitz told Radio Sweden.

Amnesty also noted the many Roma from Kosovo and Serbia whose claims are deemed "manifestly unfounded" by the Swedish Migration Board and sent back to their native countries.

"We believe that this is incorrect and we also believe that these asylum-seekers do not receive a fair asylum procedure," said Seidlitz.

Seidlitz says Roma in Kosovo and Serbia face widespread discrimination there and, in some cases, persecution.

"Children sometimes don't have the right to go to school. We see that the Roma have difficulties getting medical aid. They are sometimes evicted from their homes and sometimes forced to live in conditions that are inhumane," said Seidlitz.

"At the very least they must receive a full and fair asylum procedure, including, for example, having a legal representative, which they do not have when an application is considered to be manifestly unfounded," she said.

The report, Amnesty's 49th, also mentions the low number of rape reports that result in convictions and concern over inadequate investigations into rape cases.