On February 18, 2008 Sweden and Iraq signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding readmissions of Iraqi asylum seekers whose applications for Swedish residence permits have been denied.
The Minister of Migration Tobias BillstrÃ¶m stated in the radio show Ekot on AugustÂ 26, 2009 that â€The majority of the returnees do so voluntary, thus fully in line with the fundamental idea of the MoU. But if there will be a situation where people refuse to leave Sweden, then naturally we will resort to coercion as a last resort, which is also specified in the MoU.â€
This has been the picture that Tobias BillstrÃ¶m has consistently tried to present regarding the attitude of the Iraqi regime towards the MoU. Already during a parliamentary interpellation debate on March 26, 2007 Tobias BillstrÃ¶m stated inter alia that: “The government of Iraq has been a strong promoter of the agreement on readmissions. I have noticed, not least myself when I was on a visit to Baghdad in September last year and discussed the issue with a representative of the Iraqi Government. They have been warm instigators of this [agreement] and have not been opponents in any sense towards creating orderly and correct ways to establish how people shall return. On the contrary, there is an interest on their behalf to ensure the return of their citizens.”
However, information has emerged, including an interview with Ekot on August 26, 2009, that Iraq does not consider that there is any basis in the MoU for any forceful expulsions. On the contrary the Iraqi Minister of Migration Abdul Samad Sultan Rehman stated to Ekot that “[t]here is no agreement on involuntary expulsions, we do not want to force anyone to return and we will not accept that anyone is involuntarily expelled,” and “We, like all other countries, will not contribute to forced expulsions since it contradicts the human rights. I have difficultly to believe that the Swedish government, which has been so generous to Iraqis and its renowned for its humanitarianism, would make use of methods of coercion.”
The current Article 2 of the MoU states as follows:
” IV. Iraqis who have no protection or compelling humanitarian needs justifying prolongation of their stay in Sweden. but who nevertheless, continue to refuse to avail themselves of the option of voluntary return may be ordered to leave Sweden as an option of last resort. The return process of such persons will be phased, orderly and humane.”
The specified formulation provides no support for forced deportations, and yet out of Sweden conducts such deportations in a fast pace with alleged support in the MoU.
Furthermore, nor has the Iraqi regime complied with the MoU. Many Iraqi asylum-seekers have testified that they have been left in the dry after their deportations and due to continued harassment and persecution they have been compelled to flee once again. UNHCR, and others, have criticized the fact that deported asylum seekers donâ€™t receive the support that they are entitled to according to the MoU. Article 4 of the MoU states that:
“The Government of the Republic of Iraq will, together with other relevant bodies, carry out the necessary measures to ensure that Iraqis abroad can return without any fear of harassment, intimidation, persecution, discrimination, prosecution or any punitive measures whatsoever.”
And Article 8 provides that:
” The Parties will take special measures to ensure that vulnerable groups receive adequate protection, assistance and care throughout the return and reintegration process. In particular, measures will be taken to ensure that unaccompanied minors are not returned prior to successful tracing of family members or without specific and adequate reception and caretaking arrangements having been put in place in Iraq.”
An agreement is valid if both parties agree on its contents, sign and comply with it. At present that is clearly not the case. I call upon the Constitutional Committee [of the Swedish parliament] to review the on statements and actions of Tobias BillstrÃ¶m in this regard.
Member of Parliament for the Left Party
Spokesman on migration and refugees
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, +46703439674