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December 13, 2017
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Czech online media spread disinformation about refugees in Sweden

21.11.2017 11:26
Refugees at a European border crossing, 2015. (PHOTO:  iniciativa Pomáháme lidem na útěku - We Help People on the Run Initiative)
Refugees at a European border crossing, 2015. (PHOTO: iniciativa Pomáháme lidem na útěku - We Help People on the Run Initiative)

A misinterpretation of an ongoing Swedish study by the National Board of Forensic Medicine is making the rounds of the Czech-language Internet. Some journalists are reporting that between "76 to 86 %" of all the minors (the alleged numbers vary) who have requested asylum in Sweden are actually adults, and this has become grist to the mill of all those opposed to immigration.

The misinformation has not just been carried in the Czech Republic by tabloids such as Parlamentní listy, but also by online news outlets Moneymag or The ongoing study is indeed about unaccompanied minor refugees, some of whom Swedish immigration authorities suspect could be 18 years old or older.

According to the statistics for 2015, there were 35 369 minor refugees unaccompanied by any adult family members who came to Sweden that year, while during 2016 a total of 2 199 such persons arrived there. The authorities, however, have only ever sought verification of age in 4 200 cases of persons about whom they had doubts as to whether their age had been correctly reported.

For the time being the study has managed to verify the ages of just 581 individuals. The measurement of their age is undertaken with the aid of MRI and X-ray technology, which can be used to estimate the approximate - not the exact - age of bones.

For that reason, the study itself makes no claims as to any percentage of those investigated being demonstrably 18 or more years of age, but just claims that a certain percentage is probably 18 or older. The reporting of the study by the Czech-language media has either been inadvertently or intentionally manipulated.

First and foremost, the study is not about all minor asylum-seekers in Sweden, as during 2015 a total of 70 384 minors arrived in Sweden, and 10 909 minors arrived there in 2016. The study is just about those who arrived unaccompanied by any adult family members, i.e., the 37 568 such persons so identified who arrived in 2015.

The study is not even about all of those persons. The immigration authorities have only asked that 4 200 of them be investigated.

Even that number does not represent all of the persons about whom claims are being reported, as for the time being just 581 cases have been investigated. Of those 581 cases, it has been assessed that 442 of them do actually represent asylum-seekers who are probably 18 years old or older who have reported younger ages to Swedish authorities - in other words, most of those investigated so far, not most of all the minors seeking asylum in Sweden, as has been erroneously reported.

First published in Czech on

Jan Cemper, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
Views: 755x

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Cizinci, Hoax, manipulace, Migrace


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