Major changes proposed to Sweden’s asylum system

Major changes proposed to Sweden’s asylum system

The Minister for Employment and Integration, Ylva Johansson (S), received a government-commissioned Inquiry (the so-called Mottagandeutredningen or Reception Inquiry) on the asylum system on 28 March. The report (SOU 2018:22), which took some two and a half years to complete, looks at how to streamline Sweden’s reception and handling of asylum cases, and also suggests how to carry out deportations when someone’s asylum case is rejected. 

One key starting point of the Inquiry to remedy the lack of a holistic perspective in the reception system. Above all, the report underscores the need to reduce waiting times, which often carry with them a high human- and economic cost. 

The report particularly points to the fact that a limited number of municipalities have had to take a disproportionately high level of responsibility, resulting in considerable pressure on welfare services and local communities. The government’s special investigator, Martin Olauzon, recommends in the report that people seeking refuge in Sweden should first be gathered in state-run asylum centers, and then sent on to a local area if they are allowed to stay, instead of automatically being allowed to themselves choose where to live. 

The Inquiry suggests that it would be obligatory for all asylum seekers to live in these centres and take part in the activities there. The arrival centres will function as a ‘one stop shop’ where asylum seekers are available for the government agencies and where asylum seekers would receive basic information about Swedish society. The Inquiry highlights that one of the most important things to start with is to provide clear information about society, giving asylum seekers knowledge about the country they are in, what is expected of them and what they themselves can expect from their stay in Sweden. Language training is also essential, as is knowledge about the Swedish labour market, its rules and the way it functions. An initial survey of asylum seekers’ professional and educational backgrounds would be conducted, and a health examination would be offered.

The Reception Inquiry also proposes that it should be obligatory for people issued with enforceable refusal-of-entry or expulsion orders, as well as people issued with a transfer order under the Dublin Regulation, to live in a departure centre.

Ylva Johansson said that Sweden has not been sufficiently prepared for the reception and integration of large numbers of people and that the government wants a broad political consensus from other political parties before moving forward with the report’s recommendations: “My attitude is that this kind of major structural reform needs broad parliamentary support, but also municipal support, in order for it to be sustainable.”

The report will now be sent on consultation with stakeholders.

 

Mundus Weekly

 

Photo: Ove Nordstrom / Shutterstock.com

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Jessica Nilsson Williams is the CEO & Founder of Mundus International. She has a long-standing interest in international affairs, having studied and worked in the field for more than 20 years. She began her career as the political advisor at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, and then worked in London and Singapore before returning to Stockholm. In 2011 she took up a senior role at the New Zealand Embassy before founding Mundus International in 2012. In addition to working for foreign missions, she has worked in sectors such as NGOs and non-profit organisations (e.g. the Clinton Foundation and the International Red Cross), and TV.