HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Swedish Asylum Policy in Global Human Rights Perspective
Increasingly restrictive asylum policies and practices are the trend throughout Europe, and Sweden is no exception. In the early 1990s, Sweden experienced a dramatic increase in the number of asylum seekers. Largely due to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, applications jumped from 27,000 in 1991 to 84,000 in 1992. These developments coincided with recession, high unemployment, and growing anti-foreigner sentiments in the population. In response, the government has, over the past four years, implemented a number of increasingly restrictive measures, which brought applications down to a ten-year low of 10,000 in 1995, and to only 2,715 in the first half of 1996. Most effective among these policies have been visa restrictions. These limits on entry, coupled with the practice of sending many asylum seekers back to "safe" countries through which they have travelled, a restrictive understanding of Sweden's obligations under the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (the "Refugee Convention"), and an increasing reluctance to go beyond commitments under the Refugee Convention to protect asylum-seekers on humanitarian grounds, have substantially undermined Sweden's humanitarian tradition.
(D814) 9/96, 34 pp., $5.00/£2.95