Archive for December, 2008

Swedish Board of Migration uses taxpayers’ money to buy off pro-Israel employee

Monday, December 29th, 2008

The Swedish Board of Migration recently lost a landmark court case after it attempted to sack an employee in Gothenburg, Sweden, for his private opinion that Israel is a democracy. The court ordered the Board of Migration to reinstate the employee. In an unprecedented turn of events, the Swedish Board of Migration has instead chosen to use public funds to buy off the employee rather than reinstate him – a move that, even more remarkably, is permissible under Swedish law and cannot be contested.

The Swedish Board of Migration demoted its employee Lennart Eriksson after he was found to operate a website in his private time and from his own home computer in which he maintained that Israel is a democracy and mentioned that he votes Conservative. He was told by his manager that these were “unorthodox” views. It should be pointed out that the coalition government of Sweden is led by the Conservatives, and Israel is the only democratic country in the Middle East, holding free elections.

The Board of Migration then took steps that in effect demoted Eriksson, measures that the court ruling in November this year equated with unlawful dismissal from his place of work. As such, the Board of Migration’s actions were deemed in contravention of Sweden’s tightly regulated employment legislation.

In its judgement, the court did not take up the issue of whether Eriksson’s demotion and sacking violated his freedom of speech, an issue that he wanted tried in court, focusing solely on the actual legalities of his dismissal. It found that his dismissal was illegal.

After the verdict was announced, both Eriksson and his legal team expected that he would be fully reinstated and allowed to return to his job, a job that he had always fulfilled to the total satisfaction of both his co-workers and superiors. However, the Board of Migration announced in mid-December that it has no intentions of obeying the court order and instead chooses to use public funds to pay 1,203,200 kronor ($155,000) in dismissal compensation to Ericsson, a measure that, although seldom if ever implemented, is actually allowed under Swedish employment law.

Lennart Eriksson comments: “I expected that following the court’s verdict, the Board of Migration would respond in accordance with democratic precepts. I expected it to respond in a manner that the general public would regard as fair and above board. I see instead that the Swedish Board of Migration is prepared to spend any amount of taxpayers’ money to prevent itself from losing further face by reinstating me as required by the court’s verdict.”

The Swedish Board of Migration’s new strategy will cost Swedish taxpayers about 1.5 million Swedish kronor including legal fees. This money would have been sufficient to pay for six new asylum assessors for one entire year, during which period they would have been able to process at least 700 asylum applications. The Board’s operations in Gothenburg are several thousand asylum application cases in arrears owing to managerial inefficiency. The decision to use public money to pay off an efficient employee rather than reinstate him as required by the court verdict therefore seems even more incongruous.

This situation is brought into even sharper focus by the fact that the person brought in to replace Lennart Eriksson following his unlawful dismissal has herself received a remarkably poor rating in her job. So much so that she has voluntarily left her position, previously Lennart Eriksson’s position, which is now accordingly vacant – but which the Swedish Board of Migration will not fill with Eriksson, the person most competent to do the job, while at the same time saving a lot of public money.

Eriksson’s manager, Eugène Palmér, stated in court that he appointed managers by “gut feeling”. His gut feeling justifying Eriksson’s dismissal on grounds of “unsuitability” was notably inaccurate because Eriksson has consistently received top ratings for the way he has done his job, and equally inaccurate regarding his replacement who declared herself incapable of filling Eriksson’s position and voluntarily gave up the post.

Eugène Palmér also went on record in court as claiming that Lennart Eriksson refused to obey orders. He claimed that this disobedience was in line with the behaviour of a figure of great historical significance that Eriksson admired, WW2 General George Patton. Palmér claimed that he knew that Eriksson’s behaviour was modelled on that of Patton, and that he also knew that Patton had a history of disobeying his superiors because he “once saw a Hollywood movie in which this was mentioned.”

At no time has the Swedish Board of Migration appealed the verdict of the court. This would seem to indicate that the Board does not take issue with the findings in the case, but that it merely opts to use public funds to get rid of all employees who do not conform to the private political beliefs of its top managers.

The Swedish public are asking how it is possible to have faith in a publicly funded authority which demands that court verdicts be implemented for asylum cases it presents to court, but which fails to observe court verdicts when it finds itself in the dock. What is more, there are commentators and analysts in the Swedish press who have drawn parallels to Kafkaesque black comedy and Soviet-era hounding of dissidents who fail to toe the official party line.

Lennart Eriksson can be contacted for comment on lennart@lennarteriksson.se, phone +46 702 672 333.

Swedish Board of Migration Loses Landmark Court Case

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

A year ago, Lennart Eriksson, an asylum unit manager at the Swedish Board of Migration was demoted because he privately expressed admiration for US WW2 General Patton, because he regarded the US as a democracy and because he supported Israel’s right to exist.

Lennart Eriksson took his employer to court on the grounds of wrongful dismissal. Today the court reached its verdict: Lennart Eriksson has won his case on every count.

The court’s verdict is as follows:

The court regards the demotion of Lennart Eriksson as a clear case of attempted dismissal and concludes that this dismissal is illegal.

The court orders the Swedish Board of Migration to pay Eriksson damages to the tune of 100,000 Swedish kronor plus interest.

The Swedish Board of Migration has been ordered to pay Lennart Eriksson’s legal expenses in full, to the tune of almost 150,000 Swedish kronor plus interest.

Collapsed defence
The court did not find the defence arguments put forward by the Swedish Board of Migration to be valid. Palmér had called into question Eriksson’s ability to cooperate in the workplace, but all Eriksson’s previous managers and colleagues had the highest of praise for the ease with which he interacted with everyone at work.

Conservative politics “unorthodox”
Eugène Palmér had commented on the fact that Eriksson is a Conservative, saying that this was “rather unorthodox”. In this context it is worth mentioning that the ruling government coalition in Sweden is led by the Conservative party.

The court found in Eriksson’s favour that he had been demoted because he expressed, in his private time, opinions in support of democracy and because he was a Conservative, two viewpoints that appeared to be at odds with those of his manager, Eugène Palmér. The court found that Eriksson’s demotion was a discriminatory measure. In its ruling the court found that the demotion was an illicit means of coercing Eriksson to leave his job owing to his private political beliefs in democracy and his Conservative politics in a country governed by a Conservative-led coalition.

Discrimination and other illegal practices
The court also found that as part of the Migration Board’s discriminatory treatment of its employee, Eriksson had been receiving a lower than normal salary. The fact that Eugène Palmér offered Eriksson two years’ full pay if he resigned was taken by the court as a sign that the aim from the very outset had been to get rid of Eriksson.

Swedish Migration Board bases its policies on Hollywood movies
In a move highly unusual by Swedish standards, Eriksson’s request for compensation and full legal costs was ratified by the court without any reduction. This may be interpreted as an indication of the court’s feelings about the Swedish Board of Migration and its top officer, Eugène Palmér. Palmér said in court that Eriksson was unsuitable for his job because of Eriksson’s view that US WW2 general Patton was a great general, whereas Palmér knew for a fact that Patton was a disloyal and insubordinate officer because he “once saw a Hollywood movie about this”.

Lennart Eriksson can be contacted for comment on lennart@lennarteriksson.se, phone +46 702 672 333.
His lawyer Allan Stutzinsky can be reached on allan.stutzinsky@glimstedt.se, phone +46 31 710 4000 or +46 705 172 043.

The plight of the Palestinian Arab refugees has to be resolved

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

It is always shocking when injustices take place and basic human rights are disregarded. When in addition huge sums of public money are spent on perpetuating human suffering, the situation becomes that much worse.

One of history’s most long-lasting and festering injustices is that of the Palestinian Arabs who became refugees in 1948.

75 % of Ottoman Palestine was set aside for the creation of an entirely new, previously non-existent Palestinian Arab state, Transjordan, later renamed Jordan. Jews were barred from living in this country. The remaining 25 % of the territory was to become the recreated Jewish homeland, Israel, 40 % of whose population was to consist of Arabs, both Muslims and Christians. However, this territorial allocation was halved in response to the Arab world’s demands. Israel was thus re-established in accordance with international law on the remaining 12.5 % of the territory. Nevertheless, in 1948 Israel was attacked by the Palestinian Arabs aided by the armies of five Arab nations.

Between 400,000 and 750,000 Arabs fled during the Palestinian Arab war on Israel. At the same time, 850,000 Jews were summarily exiled from their homes in Arab countries.
60 years later, the Arab refugees are still refugees, and so too are their children and grandchildren. Refugee status cannot be inherited, but the UN has acceded to the Arab world’s discriminatory demands and made an exception that applies solely to Palestinian Arabs. The Jewish refugees became citizens in the countries to which they fled.

This discrepancy stems from two main sources: the Arab countries that took in their kinfolk in the wake of the war they themselves started against the Jewish state have refused them basic human rights and have consistently treated them in a degrading and discriminatory way. Palestinian Arabs are banned from certain professions, they are not allowed to own land or property, they are denied citizenship in the countries in which they are born. The similarity to Nazi doctrine is remarkable.

The other explanation as to why Palestinian Arab refugees are still refugees is UNRWA.

UNRWA is a UN refugee organisation that was created for just one single group of refugees: the Palestinian Arabs including their descendants born in other countries and who have consequently not actually fled anywhere – the legal and logical definition of the term “refugee”.

UNHCR is a UN refugee organisation that was created for all the world’s refugees apart from the Palestinian Arabs. These refugees do not remain refugees – they become domiciled citizens in the countries that receive them.

UNRWA has 25,000 employees, almost exclusively Palestinian Arabs, to take care of 4.5 million Palestinian Arabs.

UNHCR has 6,300 employees to take care of 33 million refugees in more than 100 countries.
UNRWA costs the world’s taxpayers half a billion dollars a year to permanently maintain the refugee status of 4.5 million Palestinian Arab refugees.

UNHCR costs the world’s taxpayers 1 billion dollars annually to resolve the refugee status of 33 million refugees annually.

UNHCR’s mandate is to resolve refugee status. UNRWA’s mandate is to maintain refugee status.
UNRWA is a self-supporting world – it creates jobs for itself and these jobs are under threat if the organisation is forced to solve its problems.

To this must be added the fact that the Arab dictatorships exploit the insufferable conditions of the Palestinian Arabs as a live weapon against the Middle East’s sole democracy, Israel.

Democracy is a threat to totalitarian regimes and Palestinian Arab suffering is maintained as a means of diverting attention from the democratic threat.

Liberals and democrats have a moral obligation to deal with the core of the problem instead of continuing to support a disgrace that by UNRWA’s own definition expands for every year that goes by.

Enormous funds have been wasted for 60 years without the Palestinian Arabs’ refugee status being resolved. As liberals and democrats we ought to be demanding a solution to the permanent refugee status of the Palestinian Arabs. All other refugees have been settled by the UNHCR during this same period, at a mere fraction of the cost per person.

Failure to demand an immediate end to the Palestinian Arabs’ permanent UNRWA refugee status is to collaborate in their discrimination – something that is unthinkable for anyone with a firm belief in the equality of all human life.