Border police officer.
The police are tasked with tracking down failed asylum seekers who refuse to leave. Credit: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police want more powers to help remove failed asylum seekers

Police chief: Proposals not designed to give force sweeping powers
6:06 min

The police would be allowed to conduct a search of an asylum seeker and their home to try to find "hidden" identity documents under new proposals submitted to the government to try to remove more rejected asylum seekers from the country.

The Migration Agency, the Police and the Prison and Probation Service were asked by the government to come up with suggestions for how to make it easier to deport those who have had their asylum claims rejected but refused to leave Sweden voluntarily.

At this stage, they are proposals and there is no guarantee that they would come into use.

The proposals include:

  • Body searches for "hidden" identity documents at the Swedish border
  • House searches for “hidden” identity documents
  • Better coordination between authorities, including the easing of privacy restrictions
  • Extending the travel ban to the Schengen area for rejected asylum seekers who refused to leave Sweden to more than five years
  • Simplified regulations for when people are taken into custody at the border
  • An obligation to tell the Migration Agency where they are

A record 163,000 people applied for asylum in 2015 and the Migration Agency expects to make 108,000 decisions in total this year.

Last year, Sweden granted asylum in just over half of the cases. The majority of those rejected leave voluntarily. They must do so within four weeks of the expulsion order.

The head of the Border Police, Patrik Engström, told Radio Sweden why people going underground after their asylum claim had been rejected was a concern.

"People who reside illegally, who can't earn a salary legally risk ending up in a kind of parallel society where they're at risk of being exploited as cheap labour, being exploted by landlords, there is a risk of human trafficking but there is also a risk that people, in order to make money, also commit crime, that they are forced to or they choose to," he said.

The proposals have been criticised by some, including Michael Williams of the Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups.

"It’s a serious stepping up of the methods of the police, which risks frightening people unnecessarily," he told Radio Sweden.

"It's based on the assumption that many have got documents with them in their homes. There is no proof of that, and even though some people may have IDs, that does not necessarily mean they have them in their homes."

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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