Theater of Cruelty

Questionable language test

The police have language tested Somali asylum seekers with the help of contentious experts.


[asylum] On behalf of the Police's foreign unit, the Swedish company Scandinavisk Språkanalys AB has conducted language tests of 327 asylum seekers who have stated that they are Somali to the Norwegian authorities.

A recently published report concludes that 37 percent of these asylum seekers gave incorrect information about where they came from. But now it turns out that Språkanalys AB itself makes mistakes, and the company has received a lot of criticism.

In New Zealand, an analysis carried out by the Swedish company was rejected in court because it did not meet academic goals. Surveys conducted by the Swedish Migration Board show that tests conducted by Språkanalys AB and similar companies give wrong results in more than ten per cent of cases, and Swedish authorities have reduced the use of such services.

- They are not used as much today as before, says Anders Sundquist, who works as a lawyer in Rådgivningsbyrån, an organization that provides legal advice to asylum seekers.

Sundquist says that such companies will not provide information about analysts' expertise.

- We have long been critical of these analyzes

firms. We do not know who performs the analysis or what expertise they have. In Sweden this has become a problem, since this information must be provided in the courts. If one does not know the analyst's background, the evidence is worthless.

Pia Fernqvist in Language Analysis believes that the identity of the analysts must be kept secret for security reasons.

- These are small environments where everyone knows each other. People are exposed to threats.

Fernqvist points out that all their analysts have education as linguists and that the client can get information about the background of the analysts if they ask for it. Professional competence has nevertheless been called into question.

Three years ago, one of Språkanalys AB's analysts was sentenced to six months in prison. He recognized the voice of the person he was testing and tried to push the person for money.

The analyst himself was an asylum seeker.

- I do not know this, says Arne Jørgen Olafsen, head of the Police Immigration Service, when Ny Tid tells about the incident.

He is also not aware of the New Zealand verdict, but is aware that there has been debate around the competence of the analysts in Language Analysis.

- Language analyzes in themselves are not sufficient to find out where people come from. These tests are therefore only one of several tools, Olafsen emphasizes.

- But why do you use the tests when you are aware of this criticism?

- We believe the tests are the best there are

to power up.

Big consequences

[dialect] – We can hear right away where in Somalia people are from, says Alosow Abdirazak Abdulle, general manager at the Somali youth center Riyo Rajo in Oslo.

He still believes that the police are often wrong about where asylum seekers come from.

- I can hear that they come from the south, while the police think they are from the north.

As an example, he cites an asylum seeker from Baidoa, a town in southern Somalia where they speak a dialect that is very easily recognizable, but which others in Somalia have difficulty understanding.

However, the police have concluded that the man is from the northern part of the country. According to Abdulle, this has major consequences.

- People are sent back to places in Somalia they do not come from.

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