Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.
There were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution and law prohibit such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
There were no significant reports regarding prison or detention center conditions that raised human rights concerns.
Physical Conditions: In its most recent report on prison conditions released on September 9, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) observed regarding COVID-19 a “lack of systematic testing of both the detained persons (and patients) and staff, and…most of the staff did not wear masks even when in close contact with persons deprived of their liberty.” It stated that these practices “exposed persons deprived of their liberty (including psychiatric patients), many of whom had health conditions making them more vulnerable, to the avoidable degree of risk of getting very ill and maybe even dying of COVID-19.” Prisoners had “an only limited choice between exposure or lack of exposure to the infection risk.”
Administration: Authorities conducted investigations of credible allegations of mistreatment.
Independent Monitoring: The government permitted monitoring by independent, nongovernmental observers. On September 9, the CPT published the report of its delegation’s visit to the country on January 18-29.
The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention and provide for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his or her arrest or detention in court. The government generally observed these requirements.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.
The constitution provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right.
Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence, have a right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them, and have a right to a fair, timely, public trial. Cases of a sensitive nature, including those involving children, rape, and national security, may be closed to the public. Defendants may be present at their trial. Defendants have the right to consult an attorney of their choice. In criminal cases the government is obligated to provide a defense attorney. Prisoners always have the right to meet their lawyers in private. Defendants generally have adequate time and facilities to prepare their defense, with free language interpretation as required, from the moment the defendant is charged through all appeals. Defendants may confront or question prosecution or plaintiff witnesses, and present witnesses and evidence on their own behalf. They may not be compelled to testify or confess guilt. If convicted, defendants have the right to appeal.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
Individuals and organizations may seek civil remedies for human rights violations in the general court system. Citizens may appeal cases involving alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights by the government to the European Court of Human Rights.
Property Seizure and Restitution
The government did not confiscate property belonging to Jews, Roma, or other groups targeted by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust era, and Jewish and human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported no disputes related to restitution.
f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The constitution and law prohibit such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties
a. Freedom of Expression, Including for Members of the Press and Other Media
The constitution provides for freedom of expression, including for members of the press and other media, and the government generally respected this right. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of expression, including for members of the media.
Freedom of Expression: The law criminalizes expression considered to be hate speech and prohibits threats or statements of contempt for a group or member of a group based on race, color, national or ethnic origin, religious belief, or sexual orientation. Penalties for hate speech range from fines to a maximum of four years in prison. In addition, the country’s courts have held that it is illegal to wear xenophobic symbols or racist paraphernalia or to display signs and banners with inflammatory symbols at rallies.
Freedom of Expression for Members of the Press and Other Media, Including Online Media: The law criminalizing hate speech applies as well to print and broadcast media, the publication of books, and online newspapers and journals.
Libel/Slander Laws: Defamation is a criminal offense punishable by fines or a maximum of two years in prison in the case of gross defamation. A prosecutor may bring a case for insulting behavior towards a person on account of his or her exercise of public authority or related to race, color, national or ethnic origin, religious belief, sexual orientation, or transgender identity or expression. There were no reports of criminal prosecutions for defamation.
Nongovernmental Impact: Journalists were subjected to harassment and intimidation, mostly online and on social media. A survey showed that in the previous three years, 70 percent of journalists had experienced insults, 40 percent experienced slander, and 23 percent had been exposed to harassment and unlawful threats.
In April a court sentenced two Russian citizens from Chechnya to lengthy prison terms for their roles in the attempted killing in 2020 of blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov, who had been critical of authorities in Chechnya. In May, Foreign Minister Ann Linde summoned the Russian ambassador to request information on Chechen authorities’ involvement in the murder attempt. She released a statement about the incident stating, “It is unacceptable that state actors participate in crime in Sweden.”
b. Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The constitution provides for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights.
c. Freedom of Religion
The constitution and law provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.
The government did not bar the repatriation of Swedish citizens held in camps in northeastern Syria but neither did it facilitate their return. On May 26, Human Rights Watch criticized the government for not repatriating 65 to 75 Swedish citizens held in camps in northeastern Syria. The report stated that the government had already repatriated seven persons from Syria. In September the government accepted three women and six children after Kurdish authorities expelled them. The Kurdish-led civilian administration in northeast Syria stated 16 Swedish citizens had been repatriated.
The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, returning refugees, or asylum seekers as well as other persons of concern.
Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. Applicants may appeal unfavorable asylum decisions.
Safe Country of Origin/Transit: In accordance with EU regulations, the government denied asylum to persons who had previously registered in another EU or Schengen member state or in countries with which the government maintained reciprocal return agreements. The Migration Agency has produced a list of countries that, in addition to EU member states, are considered safe countries of origin for asylum seekers based on EU rules.
Durable Solutions: The government accepted refugees for resettlement from third countries and facilitated local integration (including naturalization). The government assisted the safe, voluntary return of refugees to their homes.
Temporary Protection: The government also provided various forms of temporary protection to individuals who may not qualify as refugees and as of November 1, provided subsidiary protection to 405 persons.
According to UNHCR, 50,414 stateless persons were in the country at the end of December 2020. The large number of stateless persons was due to the influx of migrants and refugees and the birth of children to stateless parents who remained stateless until either one parent acquired citizenship or a special application for citizenship (available for stateless children under the age of five) was made.
Stateless persons who are granted permanent residence can obtain citizenship through the same naturalization process as other permanent residents. Gaining citizenship generally took four to eight years, depending on the individual’s grounds for residency, ability to establish identity, and lack of a criminal record.