28 March 2019

Reports of suspected war crimes are increasing

The Swedish Migration Agency is reporting an increasing number of suspected war crimes to the police.
“This is the result of a clear increase in the authority’s ambitions in recent years when it comes to address this issue,” says Oskar Ekblad, Section Manager at the Swedish Migration Agency.

For many years, the Swedish Migration Agency has cooperated with the Swedish Police Authority on efforts to discover suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in cases handled by the Swedish Migration Agency.

In 2016, the two government authorities deepened their cooperation on this issue, working together with the Public Prosecutor's Office with the aim of increasing information and knowledge sharing between these authorities. New forms of collaboration have been established and the authorities have engaged in joint training efforts.

Last year, the Swedish Migration Agency reported 135 cases of suspected war crimes or crimes against humanity to the police, compared with 52 cases in 2017. In 2016, 43 cases were reported. The reports pertain both to asylum cases and other types of residence permission. Among other things, they may have to do with the fact that an individual has posed for a picture with a dead person or is suspected of having participated in war crimes in connection with her/his military service.

The increase in reports is the result of long-term efforts by the Swedish Migration Agency to address the issue. In recent years, the authority has advanced its ability to detect war crimes and crimes against international law.

Since 2016, the Swedish Migration Agency has trained specialists in fields such as war crimes, and the number of specialists has since increased from about 15 people to more than 40. The specialists participate in and support investigations in which war crimes are suspected, and disseminate knowledge of the issues throughout the entire agency.

“For example, when we see indications of suspected war crimes, the caseworkers, with the support of the specialists, can ask informed questions about specific associations or warring factions. In this way, we can obtain important information that serves as the basis for the reports,” explains Oskar Ekblad.