Stockholm (AsiaNews) - The plight of Iraqi refugees immigrants in Northern Europe continues, where authorities are pressing ahead with forced returns. Britain, France, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, in different ways and forms, see this as the “quick fix” to the drama of Iraqi asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected. Now the Iraqi government seems intent on finding a solution.
The Iraqi ambassador in Stockholm, Hussain al-Ameri, told Sveriges Radio that his country wants to put an end to the practice already condemned by the European Union. "The Iraqi government is ready to accept those who return voluntarily, but there are serious issues that concern forced repatriation," said the diplomat.
An agreement between Sweden and Iraq on the return of migrants came into force in 2008. Since then, about 5 thousand Iraqis have returned voluntarily, while more than 800 were sent back against their will, according to figures provided by the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet (SVD).
Thus, the Iraqi Minister for Immigration, Dindar Najman Shaifiq al-Dosky, decided to open a dialogue with Stockholm and other European governments to ensure fair treatment to failed asylum seekers.
Reading between the lines of the agreement
Under the deal, the Iraqis not considered in need of protection and who do not want to return home voluntarily "are ordered to leave Sweden”, but it is also expected that the repatriation takes place “humanly, on reasonable grounds and in an organized way. "
Often, however, according to the refugees themselves, these terms are not met: the "deported" arrives at Baghdad airport, is questioned by Iraqi authorities and then detained by the police to check documents before being sent home. It often happens, however, that the deported are detained for a serious length of time, even a whole week: families with women and children are kept in police stations for days with the prospect of being thrown back out onto the streets at the mercy of terrorism and crime.
In October 2009, an investigation by Swedish Radio reported on the deportation of Iraqis, especially those belonging to religious minorities and most notoriously vulnerable to persecution. According to the report, the Immigration Office's criteria for determining whether a refugee is or is not in danger in his country of origin, are completely arbitrary. Amnesty International has noted that most of the new Iraqi asylum claims were rejected after the Swedish Migration Board and the Court of Appeals for Immigration decided in 2009 that " there is a internal armed conflict in Iraq. "
Baghdad is trying to clarify the Swedish interpretation of repatriation, while the Stockholm Minister for Immigration, Tobias Billström sees no compelling reasons to stop the deportations and highlights how the Iraqi government has never made a proposal to renegotiate the 'Agreement.
Charter flights of the "deported" from Sweden have been stopped several times before the winter at the request of the European Court of Human Rights, which is examining appeals lodged by Iraqi asylum seekers. (LYR).