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A recently released WikiLeaks cable from 2006 reveals 120 Chinese children vanished from Swedish immigration centres within a period of 18 months. The Embassy of Stockholm believes the disappearing acts were managed by organised traffickers residing in several European countries.
The children — ages 10 to 18 — arrived in Sweden unaccompanied and, oftentimes, without travel documents, to seek political asylum. They all claimed they had relatives who were victims of religious persecution and seemed “very professionally coached” during questioning, according to a Swedish official.
Shortly after their arrival, police believe the children escaped to locations in Denmark, Germany, Italy, France or the Netherlands. The children are not placed in secured areas since “they are minors and have committed no crime,” the report said.
The Embassy describes the trafficking situation:
While we admit we have only a superficial grasp of this situation, we are nonetheless incredulous about the narrow interpretation of laws and implementation of strict rights of privacy that paradoxically result in a basic loss of human rights of these minors. We report this to our neighbouring posts in the hope they may have some complimentary information. While the European nations mentioned all are strong advocates of trafficking in persons conventions, it seems something critical is lacking on the ground when this trafficking actually takes place.
During a single police surveillance, it was discovered that a group of children who left a Stockholm reception centre traveled to Germany after receiving instructions on their cell phones. Authorities were not permitted to continue their surveillance into the country and the children have not been seen since.
In Nov. 2005, two Chinese nationals legally residing in Sweden were arrested in connection with the children trafficking. In their apartment, authorities found numerous forged Japanese passports and several thousand dollars.