In the face of mounting public pressure, the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) has decided that 2-year-old Haddile, an abandoned toddler facing deportation to France, can remain in Sweden with her foster parents until further notice
Haddile, who had been abandoned by her birth mother and then suffered alleged abuse from her stepfather, was facing deportation to France following a previous ruling by the Migration Board.
While Haddile's foster parents have expressed their desire to adopt the little girl, who has French citizenship through her mother, the agency's inability to contact the toddler's biological parents has complicated the process.
According to the Migration Board, deporting Haddile to France, a country in which she has never lived or visited, would make it possible for her to be reunited with her mother, an Algerian-born woman with French citizenship.
News of the girl's impending deportation sparked a public backlash, with tens of thousands of Swedes signing a petition in favour of her being allowed to stay in Sweden.
On Sunday, Swedish migration authorities issued a statement clarifying that Haddile could remain in Sweden while the agency continued the search for her birth parents.
"Haddile Khemice can remain in her foster home while efforts to find the parents continue," the Migration Board said in a statement.
The agency explained that a more in-depth assessment of the girl's case is required before she can be deported – if her parents or other relatives cannot be found.
Haddile's foster parents welcomed the news that the little girl wouldn't be deported immediately, but remained concerned about that might happen next.
"When they start talking about relatives, I'm not sure what they're talking about. They know there is a problem related to honour culture in this case. It's in Haddile's file. There is a remaining risk that she could suffer if she ends up with relatives. I still don't understand what they're thinking, because that's not in the best interests of the child," said foster father Miklos Liewehr, to Aftonbladet.
According to legal scholar Maarit Jänterä-Jareborg, deporting Hadille could be illegal.
"Personally, I think it would be rather remarkable if they deported the girl, considering her entire existence with family has taken place in Sweden with a family that wants to adopt her," she told the TT news agency.
While the case is complicated from a legal perspective, there is a strong case to be made that Haddile's strong emotional ties stemming from her relationship with her foster family means the her relationship is covered by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, explained Jänterä-Jareborg.
"Which obviously, if it's taken seriously, would mean that she couldn't be deported," she said.
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