Human Trafficking Case – Maria and her children

Maria* is from Nigeria but moved to France, because she had been promised a job. Instead, she ended up in the hands of traffickers in France. The job in fact meant forced prostitution. She was also taken to Italy and was forced to sell sex for a long period of time. The traffickers even tattooed her body to indicate their ownership. After ten years in prostitution and several escape attempts, Maria finally succeeded to flee the country and arrived in Sweden where she applied for a residence permit for herself and her new-born twins. However, the Swedish Migration Board decided to transfer them back to Italy.

Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers represented Maria and the children in their appeal against the authority’s decision. The Dublin Regulation, which asserts that asylum claims should be done in Italy which was Maria first point of entry into Europe, was cited as the reason for sending Maria and her family back to Italy. However, Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers argued that the Migration Court must make an exception in Maria case. According to art. 3.2 of the Dublin regulation exceptions can be made if there are systemic weaknesses in the recipient country’s asylum procedure. In addition, the article obliges a state to take into serious consideration an applicant’s risk of being subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.

Migration Court made the assessment that although the different circumstances in Marias cases were not in themselves enough to constitute reasons for an exception, there was an overall strong humanitarian reason to not transfer Maria and her two children to Italy. In its decision, the Court further considered the principle of the child’s best interest. The Migration Court’s decision concerning this exception to the Dublin regulation is in principle unique and clears weigh for new practice within the area.

Maria and her two children can now, thanks to the decision, have their asylum applications examined in Sweden.

*Name has been changed.

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