Migrationsverket. Foto: Maja Suslin/TT.
The Swedish Board of Migration uses language tests as a way to establish the origin of some migrants. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT.

Migration Board "language experts" found wanting

The Swedish Board of Migration's use of anonymous language experts is criticised for being a threat to the rule of law, after some experts reached questionable conclusions on where people come from.

Swedish Television's investigative programme Uppdrag Granskning has found several cases where the language tests have been lacking in quality, or are just wrong. For the individual asylum seeker, a decision about based on such a test can have disastrous consequences, where people are forced to return to countries they have never set foot in.

But the language experts are anonymous, so their qualifications or competency cannot be checked by an outsider. Legal council Byron Törnström says "an analysis which is being used to return a person where he or she potentially could be murdered, raped, mutilated or whatever, must be verifiable for me as a lawyer who is supposed to take care of my client's interests.

Uppdrag Granskning managed to reveal the identity of one expert in Somali languages, who has written over 5,000 analysis reports. The reporters found that his CV was partly made up. And when a well-known professor of the Somali language saw the list of languages the expert claimed to know, he baulked.

"I doubt that he knows all these languages. There are of course exceptions on the planet. There are people who are genius. But a normal person would not be able to know all these languages," professor Abdalla Omar Mansur told Uppdrag granskning.

In response to the criticism, the Board of Migration emphasised that the language tests are just part of the basis for their decisions, but the head of the legal department Fredrik Beijer told SVT they will look into the matter

"If someone has consciously given false information to (the language expert company) Sprakab and then to us, and don't have that competency, that would of course be a threat to the rule of law. We need to investigate this further. That would of course be a serious problem," Beijer said.

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