We need to join the coalition

Opinion articlesRFSL

The parliamentary investigation committee on the Swedish migration policy has been allotted too little time. That, combined with political pressure, risks jeopardizing the legal certainty of people in flight.

October 4 2019

In the middle of June, a parliamentary investigation committee on the future Swedish migration policy was appointed. After having learned about the committee’s directive we are deeply concerned that haste and political pressure will lead to suggestions that seriously dismantle the legal certainty of people in flight.

The migration debate is characterised by short-term solutions that focus on stopping and limiting migration. Media has reported how political agreements between parties have been made even before the committee has started its work. We see, and worry about, a development where populist winds dictate the agenda.

The committee now has less than a year to make investigations that will have immense consequences for people in flight. We are one of many who have criticised the extremely short investigation time in such an important area. The committee will address the issue of permanent or temporary residence permits, the classification of countries as safe, and how Sweden can contribute to a more equal distribution of asylum seekers in the EU. These are issues that are debated in parallel with discussions at an EU level; discussions that the committee has to consider.

Concord Sverige along with the signing member organisations, therefore, wants to draw the committee’s and the members attention to the following areas that we follow carefully at an EU level:

1. Residence permit

In the EU, Sweden promotes the opportunity of permanent residence permits for asylum seekers. It’s only reasonable that the same standpoint should apply to national politics.

We urge the committee to stick to the Swedish approach that the person who has been granted asylum also should be able to get a permanent residence permit.

Research shows that permanent residence permits benefit both the individual and society. As long as the EU member states don’t make a common contrary decision, Sweden should exercise the possibility of keeping permanent residence permits as the norm.

2. Safe countries

The classification of certain countries as safe countries of origin is extremely risky and contravenes all people’s right to have their individual asylum claims tried. If an asylum seeker has fled from a country on the list of safe countries, a so-called quick investigation will be carried out.

Using lists of countries deemed as safe often leads to perfunctory processing where caseworkers don’t properly take in and evaluate country information. The situation in a country can change quickly and the country information must be up to date.

In a quick process, it can be hard for an asylum seeker to feel secure enough to talk about difficult asylum claims such as vulnerability based on religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

Nearly half of the EU member states have chosen not to use these kinds of lists. Thus, nobody is forcing Sweden to produce or use lists of safe countries.

Experiences from member states also show that it’s more efficient to employ national asylum processes than to produce lists of safe countries.

3. Solidarity in the reception of people in flight

Sweden shouldn’t back down from the responsibility of receiving people in flight. Sweden likes to be a role model in international contexts, with a humane and generous migration policy, and also encourages other countries to act in a similar fashion.

In the EU, the efforts to share the responsibility of receiving asylum seekers has stranded as countries such as Hungary, Italy and Poland blankly refuse to receive people in flight.

One of the committee’s directives is that Sweden should contribute to a more even distribution of asylum seekers within the EU. There’s an opportunity for that in the talks that Germany and France initiated in July with those EU member states who are willing to receive asylum seekers. The group is called Coalition of the willing.

The only way forward is for Sweden to join the coalition and thereby to act to ensure safe and legal ways to Europe. We cannot let the disaster with boats on the Mediterranean being refused entry continue.

We call upon the investigation to:

  • Harness the opportunity to keep permanent residence permits in the national legislation,
  • reject lists of safe countries of origin, and
  • promote that Sweden joins the Coalition of the willing to contribute to solidarity and an even distribution of migrants.

When our world is facing big challenges we must not forget our common responsibility to safeguard all people’s universal rights, including the right of asylum. The goal has to be how best we can uphold these rights, not how fast we can negotiate them away.

Deidre Palacios
vice president of RFSL
Eliot Wieslander
secretary-general of Läkare i världen
Martin Nihlgård
secretary-general of IM individuell människohjälp
Daniel Grahn
secretary-general of Erikshjälpen
Karin Wiborn
secretary-general of Sveriges kristna råd
Erik Lysén
manager of Act Svenska kyrkan
Mayson Joacimsbarn Persson
vice president of RFSL Ungdom
Mohamed Ibrahim
secretary-general of Islamic relief Sweden

The opinion article was published in Altinget.se October 4 2019