Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 September 2014, 10:50 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Sweden

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 14 June 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Sweden, 14 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c1883c32.html [accessed 16 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

SWEDEN (Tier 1)

Sweden is a destination, and, to a lesser extent, a transit country for women and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution, and women, children, and men in forced labor. Swedish police have estimated 400 to 600 persons are subjected to human trafficking, primarily forced prostitution, in Sweden annually. Identified victims of forced prostitution largely originate in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia, and in 2009, 16 were children. Most forced prostitution takes place in apartments, houses, or hotels. In some cases, victims are told their employment will involve some form of sexual activity, such as dancing in a club, but once they arrive, traffickers often confiscate victims' documents and threaten sexual abuse or rape victims to "initiate" them into prostitution. Officials and NGOs reported forced labor is a problem, especially involving domestic workers, restaurant workers, and seasonal workers who appear during April-September to perform road work, construction, and gardening work. Eastern Europeans have been subjected to forced begging and stealing in Sweden. Authorities reported trafficking is increasingly being led by organized criminal gangs in Sweden. Many identified victims belonged to minority groups and lived in sub-standard conditions in their countries of origin. The approximately 2,250 unaccompanied foreign minors who arrived in Sweden, primarily from Afghanistan and Somalia, during 2009 were vulnerable to human trafficking; some have gone missing since their arrival in Sweden. Child sex tourism by Swedish nationals traveling abroad is a problem; Swedish citizens are estimated to buy sexual services from children abroad on 4,000-5,000 occasions annually.

The Government of Sweden fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government took steps to encourage usage of its anti-trafficking law and made substantial progress in sex and labor trafficking victim identification. Police reported they were able to identify more victims in 2009 due to additional funding and effective victim identification training.

Recommendations for Sweden: Vigorously prosecute, convict, and punish labor and sex trafficking offenders using Sweden's anti-trafficking statute; ensure traffickers receive sentences commensurate with the gravity of this human rights abuse; continue training judges on the application of the anti-trafficking law; continue efforts to identify and provide trafficking-specific assistance to child trafficking victims in Sweden, and consider proactive measures to prevent unaccompanied foreign minors from forced prostitution and forced labor; consider providing longer term residency options for victims who may face retribution or hardship in their country of origin; formalize programs for the safe, and to the extent possible, voluntary repatriation for victims; consider a national anti-trafficking awareness campaign to address forced labor in addition to forced prostitution; provide human trafficking awareness training to all Swedish peacekeepers; continue regular, self critical assessments of Sweden's anti trafficking efforts.

Prosecution

The government made some progress in prosecuting sex and labor trafficking offenses during the reporting period. Sweden's 2002 anti-trafficking law prohibits trafficking for both sexual exploitation and forced labor and prescribes penalties of two to 10 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Prosecutors continued, however, to rely on a prostitution procurement law with weaker prescribed penalties to prosecute and convict some sex trafficking offenders. In February 2010, the Ministry of Justice proposed changes to the 2002 anti-trafficking law to make it easier to employ in prosecuting trafficking offenders. The police reported additional funds enabled them to improve anti-trafficking operations and victim identification in 2009 – the government increased sex trafficking investigations from 15 in 2008 to 31 in 2009 and increased forced labor investigations from eight in 2008 to 28 in 2009. Authorities prosecuted and convicted two people for labor trafficking; the offenders respectively received prison sentences of one year and one year and three months. Authorities prosecuted and convicted at least four sex trafficking offenders under the trafficking statute and 20 sex trafficking offenders under the procurement law during the reporting period. The average sentence for trafficking offenders convicted under the trafficking statute was approximately two years' imprisonment; the average sentence for trafficking offenders convicted for procurement was approximately two and a half years' imprisonment. The Stockholm Police forged anti-trafficking partnerships with counterparts in other governments by initiating a project to share best practices within the EU on communicating with victims and victim repatriation.

Protection

The government made substantial progress in victim protection during the reporting period. Authorities identified 31 sex trafficking victims and 28 labor trafficking victims during 2009, an increase from 15 sex trafficking victims and 8 labor trafficking victims identified in 2008. With additional funding from the government's anti-trafficking action plan, police were able to increase resource-demanding operational techniques, such as patrolling, wiretapping, and translation. In addition, police cadets received standard training on identifying trafficking victims, methods of coercion, and communicating with victims as part of basic education. The National Police offered an advanced anti-trafficking training course as well. Police and immigration officials have a formal mechanism to guide them in referring identified victims to services. The government funded NGOs both in Sweden and abroad to provide female and male victims with rehabilitation, health care, vocational training, and legal assistance. Municipalities operated general shelters accessible to trafficking victims, though few of these shelters had personnel trained to deal with trafficking victims. The government provided housing, medical care, and other services for child victims, and funded UNICEF to disseminate guidelines on assisting child victims. Swedish authorities encouraged victims to participate in trafficking investigations and prosecutions. The government offered minimum 30-day temporary residency permits to identified victims who were willing to cooperate in criminal investigations of traffickers and also provided access to health care and social services. The temporary permits could be extended through the duration of court procedures, but the government did not offer longer term legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution. There were no reports of the government punishing victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. There were no formal government programs for assistance to repatriated victims of trafficking; however, in accordance with the government's national action plan, the Stockholm county administration, in partnership with some NGOs, has developed plans and programs in certain instances.

Prevention

The government made some progress in trafficking prevention efforts during the reporting period. The government did not conduct a national awareness campaign addressing all forms of trafficking during the reporting period; however, the Stockholm County Administration, arranged an anti-trafficking seminar targeting taxi, hotel, tourism, and restaurant representatives. The Justice Minister hosted a two day conference on human trafficking, and the Ethnographical Museum in Stockholm, which receives funding from the government, displayed a human trafficking exhibition in 2009. The Minister for Integration and Gender Equality had primary responsibility for coordinating Sweden's anti-trafficking policy. The government provided $30.4 million toward implementation of Sweden's national anti-trafficking action plan in 2009. Sweden monitored its anti-trafficking efforts through the Ministry for Integration and Gender Equality as well as a national rapporteur, who produced a bi-annual report on human trafficking statistics. The Swedish International Development Agency fostered international anti-trafficking partnerships by funding NGO-led anti-trafficking efforts in southeastern Europe and Asia. In an effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, the government provided funding for an NGO to prevent repeated solicitation of commercial sex by people arrested for purchasing sex. The government prosecuted 54 persons and fined 91 persons for buying sexual services. To prevent international child sex tourism by Swedish nationals, the government provided funding for ECPAT and announced on the Foreign Ministry's website that child sex abuse committed abroad is a punishable offense in Sweden. During the reporting period, a Swedish citizen was sentenced to six and a half years of prison for a child sex tourism offense committed in Cambodia. The Swedish Armed Forces provided trafficking-specific awareness training to peacekeepers stationed in Kosovo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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