The government maintained law enforcement efforts, but strengthened anti-trafficking laws. Chapter 4 Section 1a of the Penal Code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking, and prescribed penalties of two to 10 years’ imprisonment, which were sufficiently stringent and, with regard to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Chapter 4 Section 1b criminalized a lesser offense of “human exploitation,” which included the exploitation of individuals for labor or begging, and prescribed penalties of up to four years’ imprisonment; these penalties were also sufficiently stringent. Through a 2019 amendment to the penal code, Chapter 6 Section 9 increased the penalties for the purchase of commercial sex acts from a child from a fine or up to two years’ imprisonment to a maximum of four years’ imprisonment. In 2019, police investigated 272 trafficking cases (106 sex trafficking, 67 labor trafficking, 99 unconfirmed) and 47 human exploitation cases, compared with 214 and eight, respectively, in 2018. Authorities prosecuted and convicted four traffickers, compared with 17 prosecutions and 15 convictions in 2018. Sentences ranged from eight months’ to four years’ imprisonment. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses. According to the migration agency’s trafficking coordinator, a restructuring of the agency, the lack of government funding, and the de-prioritization of training adversely affected its work in 2019. Nonetheless, the agency published a manual for migration agents, providing guidance on how to detect potential trafficking cases, and in 2019, the agency reported 481 suspected cases of trafficking among asylum-seekers, an increase of approximately 25 percent from 2018 (384 cases). Of the new cases, 202 were sex trafficking. During the reporting period, Swedish authorities collaborated with foreign governments on transnational investigations, including a pan-European case led by Europol involving child trafficking, which resulted in 34 arrests.
The National Police offered an online course for police officers and an annual advanced training course for all trafficking police officers and prosecutors. The police trafficking rapporteur conducted training for police and judges. The national courts offered training for judges and lawyers that included sections on sex trafficking and child victims; however, experts reported some judges lacked a sufficient understanding of trafficking cases and current trafficking legislation. The Swedish Coast Guard, police, and customs officials participated in joint regional intelligence operations in trafficking cases involving travel by sea.