Update on the attempted deportation by the Swedish government of Honduran citizen Erlin Mejía
As we have already announced in previous articles1, on December 22, 2020, Honduran citizen Erlin Mejía submitted the relevant documents to initiate his appeal process at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg against the deportation order by the Swedish government (Case “Erlin Mejía-Andino v. Sweden 49738/20)2.
Once the entry of documents was made, her deportation process was stopped pending the Court’s decision. His case is now in the first chamber, then it will go to the three-judge chamber and then seven judges will decide the final sentence. It is a long process, which gives Erlin time, but at the same time generates uncertainty and anxiety, which does not help his delicate health and well-being.
But that is not the only problem. The Swedish government, although it is unable to take steps to deport him, does not cease in its objective. Their strategy in meetings and phone calls is to deny that the European process is underway, and to insist that their wish is his deportation, arguing that this does not happen because of the coronavirus. The Migration official Louise Norin has called Erlin 3 times to insist (about 15 times) that this is the only reason not to deport him, which in itself can only be understood as harassment and as a way to try to make Erlin desist. They explain that deportations don’t happen because the airport in Honduras is closed.
But in addition, a new element has burst onto the scene. In addition to the Swedish stubbornness to deport him, there are now daily calls3 in English, originating in the US, asking him to get his passports and leave the country. Seeing what their origin is, Erlin has stopped answering the last ones. The fact itself, is quite surreal, as it is unknown who makes these calls and what may be the interest of anyone in the US, but the aim is quite clear as it’s a form of destabilization and harassment without arousing suspicion. On the other hand, considering that Erlin Mejía’s positions and discourse are not desired by the current Honduran government, and that the latter has sought different ways to silence him, it would not be unreasonable to think that the institutions could resort to this deterrent.
So to this situation of uncertainty is adding more pressure. Erlin filed a complaint with the Swedish police. In a way, these forms can be understood as an attempt to undervalue the process initiated. But also, once initiated, their chances of deportation will be less, so they need to exhaust the few possibilities they have left, which, as we say, border on illegality.Both deterrents do have in common the fact that they use unconventional and unofficial means, not incriminating, but illegal and therefore unacceptable in a state governed by the rule of law. In fact, if we have already criticized above that hostility towards refugees in Sweden, this contradicts again the image of tolerance that we have4, these facts disprove it even more. This repeated attempt at deportation confirms that it is a conscious initiative, and as such is consistent with the accusation of racism already expressed.
Her lawyer for the case at the Strasbourg Court, Mexican jurist Gabriel Campos, was categorical in the face of this new persecution suffered by Erlin: “This constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading acts punishable by the Rome Convention”. According to the defense lawyer, Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes that “no one may be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment”. Thus, he denounced that if Erlin had been denied the “right to seek and enjoy asylum in any country” in case of persecution, as stated in Article 14, now new damages were being added to this, which further deteriorated his case and his condition. Therefore, we can conclude that, fleeing persecution, Erlin is encountering even more harassment in the country that should be hosting him.
On January 18, Erlin was called for to a meeting with Immigration, at the Court of Appeal under the responsibility of Caroline Dyrefors Grufman. Dyrefors was the one who notified him earlier of the third refusal to reside in Sweden. Although Erlin thought it would be to acknowledge his new situation and the details of it, Dyrefors did not even mention the process in the Strasbourg Court. From the moment he entered, she kept repeating that she had to leave the country. The reason she gave for not initiating deportation proceedings was not the current proceedings in Strasbourg, but the pandemic. And even when Erlin raised the issue, she again avoided the European legal process.
In the calls in English, with a U.S. registered number, meanwhile, he was asked to go to Immigration to get his passports because he was going to be deported the following week. As we explained, this is impossible because of the open case. But it also does not correspond to any extradition process, since there is no paperwork to document it. What is the reason for this strategy? That the person who enters the country, in Sweden, while his application for residence is being processed and until it is confirmed, gives his passport to Migration. But once they ask for it to be returned, it is understood as a request to leave the country and their return process begins.
Therefore, the calls are intended to instigate Erlin to proceed to, so to speak, self-deport himself before the Strasbourg Court’s verdict. And their repetition (both migration calls and anonymous ones) create pressure, a state of uneasiness that may have an impact on that decision. On the other hand, the calls from the USA are difficult to prove and to trace: Erlin only has the registration of his phone, in which only appears “null” and the place of origin: Virginia (USA). This anonymity and coming from another country is undoubtedly a formula to avoid illegalities in one’s own country. We can think of no other words than “harassment”, or “bullying”, considering very serious to come from the very institutions and against vulnerable beings such as refugees, or in this case, asylum seekers.
This strategy is vile because of the forms and obviously because of the target. It is also vile because of the target. But above all, it shows that the deportation of Erlin does not correspond to a bureaucratic failure, but is something they are pursuing and would like to carry out by ignoring the situation of this person. But they even want to carry it out by ignoring the European legality and also its institutions, or even basic rights. But by wanting to do it before the sentence of Strasbourg, it also confirms that they fear that the result will be contrary to them. And it confirms that far from taking into account Erlin’s reasons for seeking asylum, they want to proceed with the deportation without delay.
This sibylline deportation request, this harassment, also contradicts the fact that Erlin has just received his LMA KORT (Asylum Seekers Reception Act Card5), the substitute identity document for immigrants who have not yet been granted citizenship.
This situation is positive because the Strasbourg process means time and above all a possibility to reverse the deportation decision against Erlin. But the harassment and para-legal attempts to incite him to leave the country are affecting Erlin’s health, his anxiety and the risk to his life, which, as we have already explained in other articles, goes back not only to these months prior to the process, but to these years in which the Swedish government has denied him permission, and before in Honduras. This is what Erlin shared with us. He defines this new situation as highly stressful. As we all know, the fact that a place does not want you, that its people don’t want you, or at least some of them, or at least its institutions say so, and the attempt to throw you out, does not contribute to anyone’s self-esteem.
3Phone calls received on 2021 January 19, 22, 23, 25, 29, 30