14 January 2016

The updated AIDA report on Sweden provides information on proposed reforms to the asylum system in Sweden, following a rapid increase in refugees towards the end of 2015. With over 80,000 refugees arriving in September and October 2015 alone, reception facilities were put under severe pressure forcing some to sleep outdoors. In response to the rising numbers and strain on public services, the government proposed a number of draconian measures to dissuade asylum seekers from choosing Sweden.

The proposed reform would reduce the duration of residence permits to three years for refugees, and one year for those eligible for subsidiary protection. There are exceptions to this for children and their families whose applications had already been registered, provided that the child is still under 18 at the time of the decision, and for quota refugees who will continue to receive permanent residence permits. This policy will apply for those who submitted asylum applications after 24 November 2015.

The report also details concerns in relation to age assessment procedures used by the Swedish Migration Agency. These have been criticised by the professional organisation of Swedish paediatricians which encouraged its members not to participate. As part of the government’s reform proposals, it will assess alternative methods for establishing age through the use of MRI scans, and introduces medical age assessments for asylum seekers. 

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 15 January 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.