GENEVA (10 March 2016) - The Human Rights Committee today concluded its consideration of the seventh periodic report of Sweden on its implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Per Olsson Fridh, State Secretary, Ministry of Culture, reaffirmed the commitment of the Government of Sweden to ensuring full respect of its international human rights obligations, but acknowledged that challenges remained before Sweden could fully comply with all of its commitments on human rights. The promotion and protection of human rights was one of the Government’s most important tasks and also constituted a cornerstone in Swedish foreign policy. The new goal for the Government’s policy on human rights, which had been recently adopted by the Parliament, was to ensure full respect for Sweden’s international obligations on human rights and would form the basis upon which future systematic work on human rights in Sweden would rely.
In the interactive dialogue which followed, Committee Experts raised their concerns regarding trafficking issues, and more specifically child sex tourism, and persons using the sexual services by children. They asked questions about the use of force by the police, which had resulted in the deaths of Daniel Franklert Murne and Sinthu Selvarajah, and the use of the electroconvulsive therapy. Questions were asked on hate crimes and xenophobia, the gender pay gap and violence against women, rights of persons with disabilities, especially in regard to employment, and the rights of asylum seekers, notably in regard to the new temporary three-year law that had recently come into effect. Experts were interested in knowing about the rights of indigenous peoples, namely the Sami peoples, especially on their right to be consulted and their land rights.
In conclusion, Mr. Fridh, highlighted the crucial role of civil society organisations in the promotion and protection of human rights. The concluding observations of the Committee would be an integral part of the efforts to promote and protect rights in Sweden and would be published, in order to have a broader consultation.
Fabian Omar Salvioli, Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee, in concluding remarks, expressed his particular satisfaction that the Government of Sweden had at the outset outlined its feminist stance. He indicated that this would be a good time to observe the reservations to the Covenant expressed by the State Party, and underlined importance that counter terrorism measures be in line with human rights standards. The issues of combating hate crime, non-discrimination and migrants were at the centre of the discussions.
The delegation of Sweden included representatives from the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, and the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Human Rights Committee will next meet in public on 14 March at 10 a.m. to discuss the General Comment on article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the right to life.
The seventh periodic report of Sweden can be read here: CCRP/C/SWE/7.
Presentation of the Report
PER OLSSON FRIDH, State Secretary, Ministry of Culture, reaffirmed the commitment of the Government of Sweden to ensuring full respect of its international human rights obligations, but acknowledged that challenges remained before the country could comply fully and completely with its commitments on all human rights. The promotion and protection of human rights were among the Government’s most important tasks and also constituted a cornerstone in Swedish foreign policy. The new goal for the Government policy on human rights, recently adopted by the Parliament, was to ensure full respect for Sweden’s international obligations on human rights and would form the basis upon which the future systematic work on human rights in Sweden would rely.
In order to further strengthen the human rights system in Sweden, the Government would deliver to the Parliament a strategy for the systematic work on human rights. One important part of the strategy was the proposal to establish an Independent National Human Rights Institution in conformity with the Paris Principles. The Government had initiated the process of incorporating the Convention on the Rights of the Child into the Swedish legislation, and a public inquiry had been set up in order to propose a law on the incorporation of the Convention. A new Disability Policy would be in effect in 2017. The previous year, the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights had been adopted. The Government would work towards ratification of the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169 and reiterated its commitment to further advance the opportunities of the Sami people. Currently, a review was being prepared of the Act on National Minority Languages.
Other developments in the advancement of human rights included ensuring the rights of Roma with the allocation of 6 million euros for the implementation of the Strategy for Roma Inclusion (2016-2019). Sweden had a feminist Government, for which gender equality was part of the solution to many challenges. One area where the Swedish Foreign Service would continue to be a driving force was women’s sexual and reproduction health rights. In 2015, more than 160,000 asylum seekers had entered Sweden, of whom 35,000 had been unaccompanied minors. This made Sweden the European State with the highest number of asylum seekers per capita. The capacity of the Swedish reception system had been stretched, creating challenges in the fields of housing, education and jobs. A new Act on Reception had come into force in March 2016, under which all municipalities would be required to receive new arrivals for settlement based on their situation and taking into account possibilities in the labour market, population and other reception services. Mr. Fridh regretted that a number of asylum accommodations had been set to fire or vandalised, and ensured that ensuring the safety of asylum seekers was a priority of the police.
Questions by Experts
An Expert asked to what extent the Covenant was incorporated into the Swedish law. Were other provisions of the Covenant, particularly article 26, which was not paralleled in full by the European Convention on Human Rights, part of the legal acquis of Sweden?
What constituted a reasonable time for the right to a trial ?
The Expert asked if other bodies utilising the Covenant and the Ombudsmen had legal power to rely upon the Covenant.
What were the grounds for discrimination under the 2009 Act? The Expert also wanted to know more about the existing remedies.
More specific information was needed on the number of detentions under the Terrorism Act. There were concerns over ethnic profiling in counter-terrorism investigations, and the implementation of legislation to prevent that. What equilibrium was there in the plans for a balance between human rights and surveillance? What safeguards were put in place and by whom, in terms of data mining and which body was in charge of this?
Another Expert asked what kinds of studies there were on the need to segregate juveniles from adults in detention.
The delegation was asked to elaborate on the Law against Torture. Would it follow the prohibition in article 1 of the Convention against Torture and would it address the statute of limitation issue?
Could the delegation clarify on the allegations that patients in psychiatric care were being incarcerated due to the lack of other accommodation?
It was of great concern that there was no limit for pre-trial detention, and that there were cases where such detention had gone on for three years.
What was the outcome of the report on the initiative for an independent civilian body to investigate complaints against the police?
Another Expert inquired whether the amendments to the new Anti-Discrimination Act had rendered it more effective. He asked the delegation to submit discrimination cases reported to the Equality Ombudsman. What was the reason for the Ombudsman taking so few cases to the court? What measures had been undertaken to combat discrimination?
Further information was requested on the establishment of an independent human rights institution.
Another Expert inquired about other ways to follow-up on observations and recommendations. Was there any criteria used to “consider the need” and, if so, based on what? Were the responses by the Government and recommendations from the Committee published and what was the role of civil society in implementations of all recommendations from the Committee?
Question was asked on measures taken to prevent, combat and criminalise discrimination cases and hate speech against migrants and asylum seekers. Regarding refugees, information had been received that Sweden was planning the expulsion of 60,000 refugees coming from countries that were not war-ridden. Was there a shift in the policy concerning receiving refugees, family reunification, and sending back children of refugees when no parent was in Sweden?
Could the delegation brief the Committee on the implementation of the short-term Strategy on Roma, which had ended three months earlier?
Another Expert asked the delegation to address the disproportionate numbers of reported cases of police abuse which were between seven hundred and eight hundred, and which had led to only four to nine criminal proceedings. The Expert was concerned that the few prosecutions and “light penalties” could be seen as a guarantee for impunity for police violence. Seven persons had allegedly died in the past year due to the use of weapons by the police. Only one of those cases had led to a prosecution and a conviction while others had led to acquittals. Was further work needed to review training of police to ensure that dangerous techniques were no longer used?
The Expert noted that the Committee against Torture had welcomed the establishment of a new investigative authority, while also expressing concerns whether the new body would be perceived as independent by public, given the fact that it still formed part of the police forces.
The delegation was asked to provide more information on the use of electro-shock therapy in psychiatric institutions and the existence of appropriate monitoring systems. What was being done to control the use of that therapy?
In the light of the fact that the Swedish Government had demanded the extradition of Julian Assange, what steps were planned, considering that more and more countries called for his liberation?
Replies by the Delegation
The delegation stated that civil society continued to play an important role and the Government was closely working with it. A strategy would be presented in May or June 2016. One of the important aspects of the Strategy was the establishment of a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles, and it was up to the Parliament to decide in what way that institution would be formed.
Fundamental rights and principles had be ensured in terrorism procedures, the delegation stressed. Persons suspected of terrorism crimes had the same rights as other persons. There were a range of tasks related to monitoring.
On the question of surveillance, it was explained that the Swedish signals intelligence was regulated by the Foreign Intelligence Act and the Signals Intelligence Act, as well two other Acts. The Swedish Foreign Intelligence Inspectorate was the main body implementing those acts. The legislation ensured a balance between national security and individual privacy and fully complied with article 17 of the Convention.
Regarding diplomatic assurances, a delegate said that there was no practice of using diplomatic guarantees, which had been used only on one occasion, in 2001.
The National Action Plan against Racism and a variety of awareness-raising activities had been undertaken in various locations throughout Sweden recently with the participation of civil society and with the aim to strengthen the ongoing work against racism. Another aim was to launch the National Plan which would target different forms of racism, including Afrophobia. The issue of Afrophobia would also be addressed in the Common Action Plan and the Equality Ombudsman was charged with a specific task in that regard.
On the application of the Convention, the delegation stated that Sweden applied a dualistic system, so in order for international conventions to be applicable, they had to be incorporated in domestic law. Up to now, only the European Convention for Human Rights had been incorporated and the Convention on the Rights of the Child was being currently incorporated. Regarding article 26 of the Convention, the Constitution protected citizens from discrimination as did other acts including the Discrimination Act.
The Roma Strategy was part of a long-term process. There were five pilot municipalities, where Roma mediators had been trained and employed. Evaluation of the Strategy would be presented in April 2016.
Turning to the crime of torture, the delegation said that the Convention on Torture did not oblige the State Party to implement it in its legislation. Sweden had provided relevant information on domestic legislation, including on assault. On the crime of particularly aggravated assaults under the principle of universality, a 2015 inquiry had proposed that a specific crime of torture be implemented, which was being currently considered.
Regarding access to a lawyer, the delegation said that there was no limit on the number of hours which a public lawyer could be compensated for.
Regarding remand periods and the use of restrictions, actions had been taken to achieve goals in that regard. New guidelines and regulations from the Swedish Prosecution Authority were in force since May and August 2015. There were signals that those had led to the reduced use of restriction, but it was too early to conclude a correlation. The Government had initiated an inquiry to review that, the conclusions of which included the limitation of remand periods and use of restrictions as well as alternatives to pre-trial time limits, and measures that limited the use of restrictions. The report of the inquiry would be published this year.
The delegation said that the Prison and Probation Service had been charged to find forms for measures specifically targeting early intervention targeting young people in remand prisons.
On the right to a trial within reasonable time, the delegation informed that the length was regulated by law for some cases, and by court practice for other cases.
Regarding Julian Assange, as the judiciary was independent in its capacity, the Government was prohibited from giving directions in that regard.
On the detention due to the lack of housing for persons in psychiatric care, the delegation explained that there were two laws that contained rules and met the fundamental safeguards. When a person was ready to be discharged, municipalities received information on the discharge of the person, and had thirty days to provide housing. The person was free to leave the facility at any time.
There were national quality registers on the use of electroconvulsive therapy in psychiatric care. In 2012 all the units that provided such therapy had been connected to the register, for a coverage of 89.3 percent of electroconvulsive therapy, which ensured improvement surveillance and equal treatment in health care.
Turning to the application of the Act on Punishment for Terrorist Offences, the delegation said that there was a limited number of cases. Eleven cases had been identified, with seven convictions and one acquittal. The cases included individuals who travelled abroad with the intention of committing or financing terrorist acts. Approximately 208 Swedish citizens had left to take part in ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria; about 100 of them had returned, and 25 percent were women.
On violations by police, the delegation stated that since 2006, the trust in the police had increased to the current 65 percent. There was indeed a high degree of complaints, and while very few had led to prosecutions, over a hundred had led to disciplinary measures, including the dismissal of four individuals from work, 32 individuals receiving a warning and 12 individuals receiving a reduction in the pay.
Concerning deaths by the police, it was explained that the police made 1.3 million interventions per year. A comprehensive study had been made by the Government on the use of firearms, and one of the conclusions was the need for a proper review of the regulation regulating the use of firearms. Strong recommendations on how to train the police were also part of the conclusions, as were recommendations to decrease the number of circumstances where firearms could be used.
The delegation said that the main reason for using expanding bullets was that they passed through immediately rather than leading to collateral damage. The preference was to maintain the use of this ammunition as statistically, the bullet was less prone to being ricocheted to other targets.
Sweden had received an unprecedented number of asylum seekers in 2016 and its reception system had been stretched. Under the new Law, the the big shift was that permanent residence permits would be issued to a much lesser extent. Instead, renewable temporary permits would be issued. There would be restrictions to family reunification, but refugees would continue to have the right to reunite with spouses, partners, and children under the age of eighteen. The new law was temporary and would only last three years.
There was no shift regarding the return policy: if a person had no grounds for staying, they had to return to their country of origin. The principle of non-refoulement was always respected.
Sweden had strong incentives to keep its reservations to article 10 of the Covenant. The reasoning was that keeping juveniles from adults could lead to separation of young people from their families, thus leading to negative implications for young offenders. Intergovernmental working groups discussed implementation of the Committee’s findings.
The Discrimination Act included seven grounds on discrimination and had been amended to include discrimination against persons with disabilities. Around 2,000 complaints were submitted per year, mostly on discrimination based on ethnic origin, followed by sex and disability.
The Office of the Equality Ombudsman had resulted from the merger of four Ombudsmen and could investigate discrimination cases. The Office had seen a significant increase in its permanent budget.
Questions by Experts
An Expert reiterated the possibility of gaps in domestic legislation on human rights, having in mind that the European Convention on Human Rights did not cover all of the Covenant’s provisions, and proposed incorporation of relevant parts of the Covenant. Would there be revisions in specifically for persons with disabilities?
Regarding Roma who were in Sweden on the basis of temporary status permits, what was their access to education and social services?
What was the permissible scope under the Data Mining Act, asked an Expert.
The response about the separation of branches, regarding the Julian Assange case was unsatisfactory, an Expert emphasized. What safeguards were in place when a person was being requested for extradition before charges had been filed? Were liberty interests sufficiently factored in?
An Expert asked whether the new prosecutorial guidelines regarding remand detention and other restrictive measures, which led to a reduction in the use of remand and other restrictions, were in the public domain, and whether the Committee could obtain them.
Was the report of the Commission of Inquiry scrutinizing the police and probation service in public domain, and, if so, what recommendations did the report make?
Another Expert asked the delegation to further clarify the use of the electroshock therapy.
Regarding police brutality, questions remained on the mechanism of trial of cases, which led them to criminal proceedings while others only led to disciplinary proceedings. More information was need on the death of Daniel Franklert Murne in 2005, allegedly due to the police use of expanding bullets, as well as regarding Sinthu Selvarajah’s death in 2014. What measures had been taken in those two cases?
An Expert asked the delegation to address the issue of the financial resources of the Ombudsman and the sixteen local offices which had very few cases.
Replies by the Delegation
The Equality Ombudsman had the joint task of the supervision and compliance of the Discrimination Act. His supervision included investigating complaints and implementing measures in the working life and in education. One hundred small companies, as well as one hundred education facilities, had been scrutinized the previous year. An inquiry was being conducted to see whether measures other than supervision and implementation could be undertaken by the Ombudsman, and would be completed this year.
In November 2015 the number of vulnerable citizens (citizens begging on the streets) was 4,700, the majority of whom were from Romania and Bulgaria. A national coordinator had been assigned to promote contact within Sweden and with their home country. The Government had a cooperation agreement with the two countries, and the free movement of those citizens was ensured. European Union citizens could stay for three months without residence permits. In order to obtain the right of residence, certain requirements were needed, including proof of financial support, employment, or a real prospect of becoming employed. If they did not fulfil those requirements, they had no right to stay in Sweden.
According the Medical Care Act, persons staying illegally had a right to health care that could not be postponed. Sweden was addressing the issue of homelessness and temporary accommodation. About forty forced evictions from illegal settlements had been conducted the previous year. Begging was considered a crime and the Government did not intend to change this.
No specific act regulated signals intelligence and other surveillance, however there were limitations. These could be conducted only in specific circumstances, with limited intrusion to private sphere as far as possible, ensuring balance between privacy and security. All operations had to be authorised beforehand by the Foreign Intelligence Court, and the Inspectorate had to inform individuals that surveillance had taken place.
The Swedish Discrimination Act provided for seven grounds for discrimination. There were no plans to amend the Penal Code or ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention.
The annual budget of the Discrimination Ombudsman was 108 million Swedish Krona.
Returning to the issue of Julian Assange, the delegation said that in the Swedish procedural system there was first a request by the prosecutor to the courts, and then an assessment was conducted if there was a possible crime. The European search warrants contained sufficient guidelines.
The guidelines on pre-trial detention and other restrictions had been completed in 2014 and were in force since 2015. They ensured that if there was a considerable risk of tampering with evidence, the prosecutor had to examine whether that risk in itself justified deprivation of liberty. If not, then the risk was not to be invoked as a ground for restriction.
On the establishment of an independent joint agency to scrutinise both the police service and the probation service, the delegation pledged that the summary of the report would be provided to the Committee. Any complaint on the use of force by the police would have to be scrutinized. If there was suspected criminal offence, a normal criminal procedure was enacted. Other types of misconduct by the police rendered disciplinary sanctions and were dealt with within the Special Investigations Departments, while the final decision was made by the Disciplinary Board of the Police.
On the two specific cases, namely Daniel Franklert Murne and Sinthu Selvarajah, Sweden regretted their deaths and was reconsidering the use of the said arms. Both investigations were under way and could not be commented until they were closed.
Electroconvulsive therapy was not electroshock therapy, a delegate emphasized. It was used as a last line of prevention, and when severe symptoms, such as suicidal thoughts and hallucinations, were prevalent. It was always prescribed by a psychiatrist. The previous year, 4,103 patients had been treated by electroconvulsive therapy, of which 63 percent were women, which was linked to the fact that females were more affected by depression. Only 0.3 percent had severe or very severe consequences from the treatment.
Questions by Experts
An Expert asked about the results of the analysis of the women’s rights in terms of employment, having in mind that both direct and indirect discrimination on the principle of equal pay for the work of equal value were prohibited. Could statistics be provided?
Which body had the final word on maternity and pregnancy discrimination, as the Equality Ombudsman did not have the authority in that regard? Could figures be provided on maternity and pregnancy discrimination?
Had the situation in regard to violence against women and children, especially domestic sexual violence, marital rape, and violence at work, been improved on the ground? Was the criminal liability of the crime appropriately amended? What was the outcome of the report on that matter?
An Expert inquired about a review of the scale of penalties for purchase of sexual services from a child. What statistics was there on prostitution? On child sex tourism, what were precise positive results of the programme of the campaigns from 2011-2012 and in 2014 and the National Bureau of Investigation?
The issue was raised of foreign workers employed in the berry picking sector and their protection from labour discrimination. Was there statistics on labour exploitation, conditions of living, criminal activities and other statistics on workers from third (non-European Union) countries?
Could more details be provided on the National Homeless Coordinator appointed in 2012?
Turning to the issue of asylum seekers and the migration crisis, an Expert recognized the steps Sweden had taken thus far and the fact that the responsibility was with the entire European Union. Could more information be given on the measures to facilitate integration at the local level? Regarding the new three-year measures in place, could the delegation clarify again whether family reunification possible or would it be included? Why was priority given to detention and not to alternatives to detention?
Regarding the European Return Platform for Unaccompanied Minors, which had been implemented with the purpose of returning of unaccompanied minors on the voluntary basis, was it a failure and why had it not continued? What lessons had been drawn from that pilot project?
Was the notion of internal asylum something that was worth exploring further, or was it considered that the failure of the pilot programme signalled the failure of the notion of internal asylum? Could the delegation comment on the 2,000 minors who had been allegedly captured by trafficking individuals after arriving to Sweden?
The delegation was asked to expand on the New Disability Policy that would be in effect as of 2017. Did it seek to improve various matters pertaining to accessibility? What measures were to be undertaken, in particular on access to justice, and specifically legal aid? What measures were to be undertaken on access to education and work? Why had the rate of employment for persons with disabilities decreased?
Another Expert asked the delegation to provide specifics on the system of asylum. He was concerned regarding the considerable number of involuntary deportations. Could the delegation reaffirm that each of the hundreds of people returned involuntarily to Iraq had been analysed individually?
On the hate speech against religious and ethnic communities, how did the delegation intend to curb that phenomenon online?
The delegation was asked to provide examples of measures to counter discrimination against places of worship and efforts to revise school texts to prevent discrimination against minorities. Did Sweden intend to address the chronic negative portrayal of members of the Muslim minority in the media, and what steps were plannrf in this direction?
Another Expert asked whether in order to qualify for social benefits, one had to be present in Sweden for more than one year, given that there were many individuals who “resided illegally” in Sweden for years but left every three months and were considered as newcomers.
Turning to the rights of indigenous peoples, an Expert asked for an update on the negotiations for the Nordic Summit Convention. Was there intention to revisit the Sami Bill? Could the Delegation reply to the duty to consult with representatives of the Sami people in connection with the exploitation of their natural resources, and more specifically in relation to the 2009 National Minorities Act and the recent amendment to the Mineral Ordinance? Did the funding for the Sami Parliament allow the body to operate effectively? The Expert asked for a clarification of the Reindeer Husbandry Act.
Why could legal aid only be provided to individuals and not to groups, if a group had a serious issue had a group dimension? The insistence on written documents was also a concern, as there was conflict between Western and traditional forms of proof. Was the Government seriously considering a truth commission that would investigate how the Sami peoples had been treated historically?
Replies by the Delegation
The delegation said that since 2005, with the new legislation on sexual crimes, a number of measures had been undertaken to protect women against violence, rape and other sexual abuse. New legislation had been proposed on online harassment. There was a need to support preventive work, especially vulnerable groups such as older women and women with disabilities, as well as young and teenage girls.
On the issue of involuntary returns, the delegation stressed that the effective return policy was high on the agenda. The aim was to achieve an asylum system that was effective in the long-term, in full resect of the principle of non-refouelment and the dignity and safety of returnees.
On how to combat hate crime online, it was explained that the Swedish Media Council had been commissioned by the Government the previous year to develop a no hate speech campaign, in order to prevent sexism, racism and other forms of intolerance, as well as educational material spread around schools. The Media Council’s budget had been increased for that purpose.
Negotiations on the Nordic Sami Convention would not end in March 2016, as had been planned. The Convention aimed to clarify many issues raised by the Committee, including land and compensation. Dialogue on future Sami policies was under way. The representatives of the Sami Community had not agreed with the proposals within the Sami Bill and therefore the Government would not adopt it. The Government’s ambition was to increase the right of self-determination of the Sami people, which had led to certain changes. The budget for the Sami Parliament would be increased this year, as would the State grant for Sami culture. The treatment of Sami peoples throughout history was linked to their condition today, and therefore both were important to the Government. Widespread ignorance prevailed on the Sami, and the Equality Ombudsman and the Sami Parliament were considering a commission of inquiry which would look into those issues.
On violence against women, it was stressed that combatting violence against women was a priority for the Swedish Government. Among the measures taken were recommendations to increase health care staff for early detection of violence, a national telephone line, quality and sheltered housing, and treatment of victims of female genital mutilation. Challenges included access across the country and prevention of violence. A National Coordinator for Domestic Violence would put forward proposals and later this year a strategy to address men violence would be drafted. A major increase of 100 million Swedish Krona had been planned, as well as new funds to support and disseminate knowledge.
In 2014, the pay gap between men and women had stood at 13.2 percent, with the likely explanation being that women and men worked in different occupations. On the employment discrimination due to the pregnancy leave, the Equality Ombudsman had looked at several cases, the delegation informed.
Results of a public inquiry into trafficking issues would be published in July 2016 and would likely recommend to scale up penalties related to persons using the sexual services by children. There was a focus on coordination and cooperation. A separate action plan on the trafficking of children for 2016-2018 was currently being adopted and a major reorganization of the Swedish Police had been undertaken. Measures to support victims of trafficking included the National Support Programme in coordination with civil society, developed in 2016, and the Counter-Trafficking Board.
A dedicated group of experts, including forensics, was working on child sex tourism. They were working to develop cooperation through the liaison officer system and the tourism offices working in the East. A Liaison Office Service had been established in Manilla for that purpose. A new cyber-crime centre had been established to counter online purchase of sexual services of children.
The establishment of the cyber-crime centre would also improve the capacity to counter hate speech online. There was good cooperation with Facebook in that regard, and hate and democracy specialised investigative units had also been created.
On the return of asylum seekers, whether voluntary or not, the delegation emphasized that the principle of non-refoulement was always respected. Costs for travel were covered. Cooperation with national authorities in the country of return and international organisations was vital.
The regulatory permits regarding third country nationals contained clear measures for salaries. New measures had been enacted to counter the abuse of labour migrants. The delegation stated that diplomatic assurances had not been used since 2001.
The New Act of Refugee Reception on Municipalities had entered into force the previous week. The Government aimed to increase access and an early start on education and training for newly arrived asylum seekers. The measures included subsidised jobs, complementary education and a fast track for professions such as chefs, health care professionals, as well as butchers and teachers. The Swedish Introduction Act of 2010 aimed to speed up the integration including through a coordinating agency, dialogue between the employment services and the refugee, education in Swedish civic education courses.
Employment for persons with disabilities had increased, said a delegate. Financial support for employers, as well as other measures, had been adopted by the Government, and 300 Million Swedish Krona were provided to that effect.
Hate speech was punishable, and the Government regularly held a dialogue with religious communities on that matter. Following the attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, surveillance surrounding religious buildings and sites had been upscale. There were guidelines on hate speech for the media. State review of textbooks had ended in 1992 and review was thereafter left to the schools.
The delegation said that the Reindeer Husbandry Act aimed to regulate that practice and promote the rights of the Sami, including their hunting and fishing rights. Legal aid was a form of statutory form of protection. The matter of proof was dealt with by the European Court of Human Rights. There was a three-step process of consultation with Sami Villagers. Mining companies were obliged to provide compensation to land owners.
An Expert raised the issue of the indigenous communities’ right to consultation.
Another Expert inquired about the nature of deportation for normal cases versus security cases.
Replies by the Delegation
The delegation stated that all right holders had the right to consultation.
There were security cases under the Aliens Controls Act, which could be of qualified nature, and could be related to terrorism. The difference was that the appeals under the Aliens Controls Act were handed to the Government by the immigration agency.
PER OLSSON FRIDH, State Secretary, Ministry of Culture, highlighted the crucial role of civil society organisations in the promotion and protection of human rights, and thanked the organisations that had travelled to come to the Committee. Concluding observations of the Committee would be an integral part of the efforts to promote and protect rights in Sweden and would be published. He concluded that the previous day a Swedish journalist had been attacked together with other human rights defenders, which reminded of the duty to protect human rights defenders nationally and internationally.
FABIAN OMAR SALVIOLI, Chairperson of the Committee, expressed his particular satisfaction that the Government of Sweden had at the outset outlined its feminist stance. He indicated that this would be a good time to observe the reservations to the Covenant expressed by the State Party, and underlined the importance that counter terrorism measures be in line with human rights standards. The issues of combating hate crime and non-discrimination had been at the centre of the discussions, as had been the issue of migrants. Mr. Salvioli commended the steps undertaken in terms of the indigenous peoples’ rights and applauded the State Party’s undertaking to ratify the International Labour Convention 169 in that area.
For use of the information media; not an official record