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The government has decided to grant permanent residency in Sweden to a so-called ‘apathetic’ child and his family. The case concerning a thirteen year old boy from Uzbekistan could set an important precedent.
The government says the judgement was based on the health status of the child and the insecure situation in Uzbekistan. They concluded that a return to his home country could have serious consequences for the child’s condition.
The government emphasised that each case of apathetic asylum seekers should be treated on its own merits and that the decision did not imply a general amnesty. They do, however, concede that they’ve eased the criteria by taking into account other factors such as how a child experiences fear.
Immigration minister, Barbro Holmberg, said that the most seriously ill children would be granted residency permits and that the effect of possible deportation on a child’s mental health will be taken into account.
“This represents a broadening of our guidelines,” she said.
There are estimated to be about 80 apathetic children of families seeking asylum in Sweden. The children shut out the world around them, often refusing to eat or talk and staying in bed.
At the same time, the government announced that all Uzbekis in Sweden would be automatically granted temporary residence permits because the current situation in the country is so serious.
The pressure on Holmberg should ease. At Easter she was hard-pressed by the publicity caused by Uppsala archbishop, KG Hammar’s petition. 150,000 people had signed a statement protesting against the treatment of apathetic refugee children.
(Posted on July 8, 2005)