Rounding up the first roundtable discussions in Sweden

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By Jenni Wirman (Uppsala University)

A vital part of the data collection and analyses of RESPOND’s country reports is to meet with relevant local and national meso level stakeholders from various fields of practises. This, in order to conduct quality assurance of the analyses, conclusions and policy recommendations in the reports.

 Within the framework of RESPOND, both one-on-one expert interviews and so called roundtable discussions are conducted. The one-on-one interviews collect in-depth knowledge and experiences from local and national experts on migration issues. The roundtables on the other hand, function as focus group interviews with the aim to give an overview of topics and aspects regarding migration that are relevant and important for the meso level stakeholders themselves. Moreover, the roundtables form a platform for the participating organisations and government agencies that can encourage them to establish contacts with each other beyond the project’s scope. During the final year of the RESPOND project, additional roundtables will be conducted with the purpose to analyse the findings and conclusions.

 The work with data collection is ongoing, the latest news being the completion of the first two roundtables. The first roundtable targeting Work Packages 1–3 and focusing on migration policies, border and protection, was held in the premises of the Delegation for Migration Studies (Delmi - Delegationen för Migrationsstudier, Stockholm) in December 2018. The invited participants consisted of government agency representatives, civil society organisations, activists and judicial practitioners with expertise and experiences within the fields of border policies, advocacy, and integration. Over a cup of coffee or two and Swedish pastry, the discussions touched upon a number of important issues.

 First, the discussion pointed out interesting faults linked to border and protection issues, such as newly arrived persons not being properly registered in 2015–2016, a lack of coordination between different actors, problems with mandates given to lawyers as well as problems with interpreters either due to language or ethno-religious background factors. In addition, authorities were found to exercise an interrogative approach in the assessment interviews conducted with asylum seekers. Second, the actors brought up the difficulties in deciding the age of the applicant as well as the lack of trust towards asylum seekers in the asylum assessment process. And third, a lack of sensitivity towards gender issues in shelters provided for asylum seekers was mentioned.