Update: 09.04.2009

The Fahad case and the Dublin Agreement

Swiss authorities have deported an Iraqi asylum seeker who became famous after starring in the Swiss documentary film “The Fortress”. On 2 April 2009, the Federal Department of Justice announced they sent Fahad Khammas back to Sweden in accordance with the Dublin Agreement, on a special flight. The human rights organisation Amnesty International says they fear for Khammas' life if he will be returned back to Iraq by the Swedish government.

Deportation: one example among many

The life of Fahad Khammas, 24, is under threat in Iraq, where he is considered a traitor by thousands of Islamists for having collaborated with US troops as a translator. Having fled Iraq in the summer of 2007, he first arrived in Greece, then in Sweden, where he originally requested asylum and been denied refuge. At the beginning of 2008, Khammas fled to Switzerland to seek asylum once more. Officials from the Federal Office for Migration (FOM) found he had previously applied for in Sweden and maintain that under the Dublin Agreement, he can’t ask for asylum in multiple European countries. Khammas filed an appeal to stay in Switzerland but a federal court rejected the petition, paving the way for his deportation.

Twice, Khammas was about to be deported. On 23 March, after his surprise arrest at the Immigration Office in Zurich, he was transferred to Zurich Airport prison and detained in isolation 7 days before forced in a special flight organised by the FOM. If Khammas’ appeals in Sweden fail, he is likely to be returned to Iraq. Human rights organisations fare for his life. According to Amnesty International, three hundreds of translators have been killed because of their activity with the US.

Swiss Migration Office happy about the Dublin Agreement application

On 7 April 2009, the FOM presented a positive appreciation of the application by Switzerland of the Dublin Agreement. It says that the first experiences were positive and collaboration with other states worked well. From December 2008 to March 2009, Switzerland has requested the transfer of 997 asylum seekers to a another signatory State; during the same period, only 52 requests from other Dublin signatory states were received by Switzerland.

In a common press release published on 7 April, the human rights organisation Amnesty International and the Swiss Refugee Council have urged the Migration Office not to abandon responsibility for the protection of refugees by transferring them abroad. It adds that the Khammas case is exemplary as of how the Dublin Agreement is taking little account of the protection needs of individuals.

Press releases in French / German only

Further information

© humanrights.ch / MERS - Hallerstr. 23 - CH-3012 Bern - Tel. +41 31 302 01 61