A family of three, who have lived in Estonia as refugees for almost a year, may be lying about their origin, Police suspect. Taken in as refugees from Iraq, the family may actually be Iranian, in which case they would not be entitled to protection either, daily Postimees reported.
The case shows that despite the checks performed by Estonian officials on refugees in Greece and Turkey, nobody could be absolutely sure about the background of the people who eventually came here, the paper wrote.
Officials became suspicious when the family of three wanted to extend their residence permits. As Postimees learned, the family admitted that they were from Iran, not Iraq, as they claimed a year ago. The police are looking into whether or not the family lied about their background a year ago, or is lying now.
In Greece, the family claimed that they had come from Iraq. The family had no documents, which is not unusual with war refugees. In such a case, the origin and background of the refugee is established by means of interviews.
Maige Lepp, head of the migration office at the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), said that the international protection granted to the family a year ago was about to expire, and that a proceeding had been started to extend it. Lepp added that if it could be established that the family had lied about their origin in Greece, they could no longer be granted protection in Estonia under the EU resettlement program.
However, if they proved that they were persecuted in their home country, they would not necessarily be expelled from Estonia.
Under valid procedure, two Estonian police officers interview refugees in Greece, one of whom asks questions and the other writes down the answers. At present, the police are using a more detailed set of questions for the procedure than before.
"We made a substantial upgrade to the interviewing procedure already last spring to better detect false information with the help of additional questions," Lepp told Postimees. "As a result, some interviewees have been caught lying and they have not been admitted to Estonia."
Estonia has so far accepted 120 people under the EU relocation and resettlement plan, half of which are children. Of the people accepted by Estonia, a family of six from Iraq voluntarily returned to their home country, 31 are traveling through Europe, and two are under arrest.
Editor: Dario Cavegn