The Ombudsmen for Justice (Justitieombudsmannen – JO) is especially critical of the Migration Board’s practice of placing deportees with mental problems in local jails, calling the practice especially inappropriate and oppressive.
On its own initiative, the ombudsman has conducted an investigation of Migration Board detention centres, uncovering a number of major shortcomings and human rights violations, especially for so-called “security placements” at facilities run by the Swedish Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården).
Routinely locking people who are considered a danger to others and to themselves in jails lacks legal basis, according to the ombudsman.
The practice not only constitutes a palpable abuse of liberty and unnecessary coercion, but also risks worsening the mental health of those who are detained.
“As the responsible authority, the Migration Board deserves serious criticism for these ongoing abuses,” ombudsman Hans-Gunnar Axberger said in a statement.
He lodged additional criticism against Swedish migration authorities for overusing the rules that allow them to place people awaiting deportation in remand centres run by prison authorities and that transportation issues result in detainees routinely being placed under arrest or in remand for longer periods of times than the drafters of the legislation intended.
The ombudsman also took issue with the fact that the right to decide on whether or not someone should be placed in a jail has been delegated to employees paid by the hour.
Caroline Henjered, a manager with the Migration Board, said the agency takes the ombudsman’s critique very seriously.
“It’s also an issue we’ve brought up ourselves and which we see as not good. It’s a matter we’re wrestling with,” she told the TT news agency.
Henjered pointed to an inquiry which recently submitted its final report with the aim of creating a new law which lives up to requirements laid out in an EU directive from 2008 regarding the detention of foreigners awaiting deportation.
The Migration Board believes that the agency needs to cooperate with the prison service but also with health authorities when it comes to mentally fragile detainees.