03:33 GMT19 January 2021
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    According to Swedish law, forcible testing is not allowed, which renders deportation technically unenforceable, as many of the destination countries require a negative Covid test. How long the “refuseniks” will remain in custody, remains unclear.

    Migrants with deportation orders have adopted the practice of refusing Covid-19 tests in the Swedish Migration Board's detention centres, utilising a loophole in Swedish laws, the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported.

    The underlying reason is that many countries require a negative Covid test from the deportees. They include Afghanistan, one of the most frequent destinations for deportation from Sweden.

    In Sweden, there are no compulsory tests. The vast majority of Afghans who have been sentenced to deportation for crimes committed or due to their application turned down now therefore refuse the Covid-19 tests to postpone their deportation, Svenska Dagbladet reported.

    Those who already taken the test disavow its results, claiming that they have been deceived or forced into taking it, thus demanding that it should be considered invalid. They, too, are allowed to stay, due to inability to carry out the deportation decision.

    According to Border Police Chief Patrik Engström, this practice of refusal means that deportations to Afghanistan have in principle stopped. Forcible expulsion is possible, but you cannot coerce anyone take a test.

    The “refuseniks” who are in custody will remain there for the time being. It is unclear how long they will be kept locked up if they continue to refuse tests and their expulsion remains technically unenforceable.

    Of the several dozen Afghans slated for deportation to their home country last week, only 7 agreed to be tested for Covid-19, which means elevated costs for chartered aircraft.

    The Border Police are now discussing whether any deportations of more than one person at a time should be carried out to any country at all as long as the pandemic is raging.

    At well over 70,000 people, the Afghan diaspora ranks among Sweden's largest and has grown steeply since the migrant crisis of 2015. In 2015, over 23,000 Afghans labelled as “unaccompanied children” sought asylum in Sweden, followed by another 2,000 in the first half of 2016. Many of them lacked identity documents, which raised hot discussions about their age.

    The future of the so-called Afghan children has long remained a bone of contention for the Swedish political establishment, with numerous interest groups, supported by left-wing parties, actively lobbying for total amnesty.

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    Tags:
    coronavirus, COVID-19, Afghanistan, Scandinavia, deportation, Sweden
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