The Swedish Migration Board urges asylum seekers to lie to the Afghan Embassy that they want to return voluntarily

06:00 July 18 – 2017 Agneta Willung

Photo courtesty: Björn Olsson (gp)

Gothenburg. Ali Reza Shariati is one of the unaccompanied minors who will be deported to Afghanistan. At a meeting with the Immigration officer they urge him to lie to the Afghan embassy. – “If you don’t do it I will have to turn you over to the police instead” said the case officer.

GP and SVT Väst (Swedish Television Network) can today tell us about Ali Reza Shariati, who came to Sweden two years ago, and who now lives in Gothenburg and who was urged to lie by a case officer at The Swedish Migration Agency. At a recorded conversation who GP have hear (SVT ) and we can hear how he is being pressured to lie to the embassy of The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

He has had his age written up by the Migration Agency and they have decided to deport him to Afghanistan, a country his family fled from when he was a baby. He says he does not know a single person in Afghanistan, and that his mother and siblings are in Iran.
This spring he filed a request for an impediment to enforcement against the expulsion order. This means that the Migration Agency cannot enforce the decision to deport him until the Migration Agency has decided the impediment to enforcement case.

-The police could take him and place him in a detention deportation center. And the planning of the deportation can continue despite the impediment of enforcement. This is what has happened in the case of Ali Reza says Nanna Töcksberg Zelano, voluntary lawyer when it comes to the file for impediment to enforcement and one of the private individuals who support Ali Reza.

Urged to visit the embassy
A couple of weeks ago, Ali Reza was called to the Migration Agency, where he was urged to go to the Afghan embassy in Stockholm and request travel documents. With him he received a letter who the Migration Agency had written in his name and which he was expected to sign. There is said that he had accepted the decision by the Migration Agency and that he assured that his return was voluntary.
Heidi Marquardt, another person who supports Ali Reza was present at the meeting and tells us:

– The woman who received the letter asked him: Do you really want to go to Afghanistan? No! Said Ali Reza, it is the Migration Agency which has decided this. Therefore, Ali Reza was not given any travel documents.

Was told to lie
The other day he called his case officer at The Swedish Migration Agency to ask what would happen next. The conversation was recorded and the GP newspaper has listened to the recording. Ali Reza starts by asking if the case officer had spoken to the voluntary lawyer and the case offices says yes. Ali Reza asks what he is to do now.
Case officer: We said that you must go to the embassy again if you want to make another try and you could go next week. Ali Reza: What should I tell them?
Case officer: Well, it is like this, you will have to tell them that you wish to return and that you want travel documents. You have been given this letter…

A: So, you mean that I must lie to them?

CO: Yes, in principle. This is the way it is: if you want to cooperate with the Migration Agency you must tell them that you must follow Swedish law, if you want to return voluntarily. You must explain to them that you have received this decision and that you don’t want to break the rules. I can understand that it is hard when you receive such a direct question, but you will simply have to say that you want to follow the rules that exist and if you have to, yes, then you want to. A: Okay. But you know that I really do not want to go to?

CO: I know that, I know that. But we must do it this way because if you don’t do it I must hand you over to the police instead and that is so unnecessary. It is better if you are smart and do it this way and then we will decide your case and we will know how it goes. But, off course I know that you do not want to go back. A: Okej. CO: But since we have to do with another country’s authority you sometimes have to be a little bit smart.
“It feels very strange”

GP (the Swedish newspaper) has listened to the recording together with Ali Reza Sharati. Afterwards he says: – It feels very strange. The Migration Agency has all the time told me that I must say the truth about my background, my age, about everything. But now they ask me to lie.

Heidi Marquardt is very critical towards the case officer’s incitements to Ali Reza. – Don one hand because he is being threatened with the police and on the other hand because the Migration agency use formulations about lying is a smart thing to do, she says.
The case officer denies it
When GP contacts the case officer of Ali Reza at the Migration Agency they ask if it is common for people who are going to be deported to not receive the travel documents at the embassy if they say they do not want to go to Afghanistan. – I would have to direct you to our press department, I cannot comment on individual cases. They have a better overview.

Regardless of this case you might have had any more boys who have been through the same thing? – I cannot give you any such answer. You must go through the official channels.

The boy with whom we have spoken to have, in a conversation with you over the phone, been instructed to lie to the embassy. – I would never instruct someone to do something like that, things don’t happen that way. But like I said, I cannot make a statement and I can’t help you any further, says the case officer.

GP newspaper have been in contact with Lena Johansson, the chief directive at the Migration Agency west, med Lena Johansson. She does not want to make a statement since she does not know about this case.

“Unfortunate if it should be interpreted like that”

Even though the Migration Agency headquarter have had the opportunity to comment what happened to Ali Reza Shariati we don’t get to talk to anyone in charge. But Linn Nilsson at the press service answers in a mail:
“The Migration Agency should not tell people to lie. It is not a behavior which the Agency stand for and it is unfortunate if it would be interpreted that way. If your asylum application has been rejected it is our duty to inform the person of what the process look like and what it means if you do not voluntarily return to your home country”.
She continues:

“If you lack travel documents we explain that a visit to the embassy is needed to get travel documents. If the applicant want to return voluntarily the applicant will receive a certificate which they may give to the embassy in order to get a travel document. According to our experience there are no troubles getting such documents if the applicant arrives to the embassy and say that their intention is to return voluntarily”, Linn Nilsson at the Migration Agency press service writes.

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About Abdul Ghafoor

Abdul Ghafoor is a refugee rights activist and blogger stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan.
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