Rights of refugees

For people who are threatened and unable to receive protection in their own countries, the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951 with its additional protocol of 1967 is an essential international safety net. The Convention and the Additional Protocol define who is to be considered a refugee and aim to provide protection for persons subjected to gross human rights violations.

According to the Convention, a refugee is any person who has a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the country of his nationality for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

Many countries, including Sweden, also provide protection to persons not covered by the Convention, including those who risk the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in their home country. Efforts to draw up a Common European Asylum System are currently in progress in the EU. Ongoing harmonisation in this area is aimed at reducing the differences in the member countries’ asylum legislation.

The right to apply for asylum is also expressed in Article 14 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established in 1950 and has a fundamental mandate to protect persons who for fear of persecution have fled their home countries on the basis of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 additional protocol.

Sweden supports the work of the UNHCR and is one of the largest donors to the organisation. Sweden also works to expand the Convention’s safety net globally by encouraging governments that have yet to accede to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its additional protocol to do so. Sweden also offers places for resettlement based on proposals from the UNHCR. Through resettlement, refugees and other people in need of protection who are outside their country of origin and are unable to return to their country of origin, or who are not guaranteed either permanent residence and security where they are, receive protection.

The refugee policy does not merely entail Sweden providing protection to those in need of it, but also involves work in the UN and other international fora to resolve conflicts between countries, efforts within the EU and other international cooperation, as well as various types of assistance.
Read more about UNHCR

Prohibition against expulsion or return of individuals at risk of torture
Persons who risk being subjected to torture may not be expelled, returned or extradited. This is established in Article 3 of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms prohibits torture, inhuman or humiliating treatment or punishment. Through established case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, Article 3 also encompasses a prohibition against expulsion, return or extradition if a person is in danger of being subjected to torture.

A person who risks the death penalty may never be returned to another state from Sweden.