U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2002 - Sweden
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||31 March 2003|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2002 - Sweden , 31 March 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3e918c45c.html [accessed 6 October 2015]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
March 31, 2003
Sweden is a constitutional monarchy and a multiparty parliamentary democracy. The King is Head of State. The Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister, exercises executive authority. The judiciary is independent.
The Government maintains effective control of the police, all security organizations, and the armed forces. The police provide internal security and the military provide external security.
The country has an advanced industrial economy, mainly market based, with a total population of approximately 8.92 million. Citizens enjoy a high standard of living, with extensive social welfare services.
The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, and the law and judiciary provided effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. There were no reports of the use of excessive force by police. The Government has longstanding programs to deal with violence against women and abuse of children. Trafficking in women and children was a problem, but it received high priority by the Government. Sweden was invited by the Community of Democracies' (CD) Convening Group to attend the November 2002 second CD Ministerial Meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea, as a participant.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports of the arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life committed by the Government or its agents.
The Chief Prosecutor's investigation into the 2000 death of Peter Andersson, who died after his arrest in Orebro, was reopened in March 2001 and remained pending at year's end.
A commission of inquiry appointed in 2000 to look into past deaths in custody issued a report critical of the police, prosecutors, and the coroners handling investigations into such deaths. The report also criticized inadequate cooperation between the authorities involved and accused two policemen of dereliction of duty. The commission also proposed reforms aimed at strengthening the safeguards for those detained. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) remained interested in such cases.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that police employed them. In the past, police officers found guilty of abuse typically were suspended, resigned, or otherwise were disciplined.
The prosecutor closed a preliminary investigation without bringing charges against any officer involved in the 2001 police shooting and wounding of three protesters at demonstrations in the city of Gothenburg. In 2001 the Government appointed a committee headed by former Primer Minister Ingvar Carlsson to investigate police actions in Gothenburg, and prosecutors in Stockholm opened an investigation of complaints against four policemen for misconduct. A trial began in September, and the court exonerated the officers in December (see Section 2.b.). The police officer in charge of the actions in Gothenburg was charged with breach of duty and unlawful deprivation of freedom, and that case remained pending at year's end.
Prison conditions generally met international standards. Men and women prisoners were held separately. Juveniles were held separately from adults and convicted criminals and pretrial detainees were held separately.
The Government permits visits by independent human rights observers, although there were no such visits during the year.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the Government generally observed these prohibitions. The law requires warrants for arrests. The police must file charges within 6 hours against persons detained for disturbing the public order or considered dangerous and within 12 hours against those detained on other grounds. The police may hold a person for questioning for 6 hours, although the period may be extended to 12 hours if necessary for the investigation. If the person is a suspect, the police must decide whether to arrest or release the person. If the suspect is arrested, the prosecutor has 24 hours (or 3 days in exceptional circumstances) to request that the suspect be detained. If arrested, the suspect must be arraigned within 48 hours. The court then sets a date to initiate prosecution, usually within 2 weeks. The prosecutor may extend the time limit for initiating prosecution with judicial review every 2 weeks, which most often occurs in drug-related investigations. Detainees routinely were released pending trial unless they were considered dangerous. Bail does not exist.
The Constitution prohibits forced exile, and the Government did not employ it.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respected this provision in practice.
The judicial system is composed of three levels of judicial examination: District courts; a court of appeals; and a Supreme Court. All criminal and civil cases are heard first in district court regardless of the severity of the alleged crime. For some areas there are specialized courts, such as Labor, Water, Real Estate, and Market courts. These courts usually are the second and last instance for trial after the district court.
The Constitution provides for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Trials are public. Defendants have the right to appeal and are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
There were no reports of political prisoners.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The Constitution prohibits such actions, and the Government generally respected these prohibitions in practice. The law limits home searches to investigations of major crimes punishable by at least 2 years' imprisonment. In general the police must obtain court approval for a wiretap and a prosecutor's permission for a search; however, a senior police official may approve a search if time is a critical factor or the case involves a threat to life. The national police and the Prosecutor General's Office submit a report to Parliament each year detailing all of the electronic monitoring done during the previous year.
As a result of the forced sterilization of thousands of persons between 1934-76 (which left the majority of those sterilized with mental or physical disabilities), the Government decided to pay damages of approximately $24,700 (219,905 SEK) to each victim. By year's end, approximately 2,100 persons had applied for compensation, and approximately 1,600 had received payment. The possibility to apply for damages expired at year's end.
2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the Government generally respected these rights in practice; however, rightwing groups were not permitted to display signs and banners with provocative symbols at their rallies (see Section 5).
Most newspapers and periodicals were privately owned. The Government subsidized daily newspapers, regardless of political affiliation. There were 169 daily newspapers and 455 weeklies. Broadcasters operated under a state concession. A variety of commercial television channels (one ground-based and several via satellite or cable) and several commercial radio stations operated.
A quasi-governmental body excised extremely graphic violence from films, television programs, and videos.
Criticism of child pornography was widespread, and the debate on the legality of ownership of pornographic material continued. The law prohibits the possession and handling of child pornography. It also is illegal to publish or distribute such material. The Queen remained a strong and popular advocate of children's rights and an active opponent of child pornography.
Internet access was available widely and was unrestricted.
The Government did not restrict academic freedom.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Constitution provides for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and the Government generally respected these rights in practice; however, there were some violent clashes between police and protesters during the year. Police require a permit for public demonstrations, but the authorities routinely granted such permits, with rare exceptions to prevent clashes between antagonistic groups or due to insufficient police resources to patrol an event adequately.
In 2001 clashes between police and demonstrators at the EU summit in Gothenburg, police officers shot and injured three demonstrators and also raided a school suspected of housing activists. In December the court exonerated the four police officers charged with criminal misconduct stemming from the Gothenburg riots (see Section 1.c.).
c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. The Government did not hamper the practice or teaching of any faith.
The country maintained a state (Lutheran) church for several hundred years, supported by a general "church tax," although the Government routinely granted requests from taxpayers for exemptions. There was still an optional church tax, but all churches now receive some state financial support.
Citizens are tolerant of diverse religions practiced in the country; however, there were some cases of anti-Semitic vandalism reported during the year. The Government continued to take proactive steps to combat anti-Semitism by increasing awareness of Nazi crimes and the Holocaust. For example, the Government declared January 27, the anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation, as a national day of remembrance.
An investigation into the September 2001 firebombing of a Muslim school in the Stockholm suburbs was closed; no one was charged with the crime.
For a more detailed discussion see the 2002 International Religious Freedom Report.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The law provides for these rights, and the Government generally respected them in practice.
The law provides for the granting of asylum and refugee status in accordance with the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. The Government cooperated with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees. The Government provides first asylum. The number of asylum seekers rose notably: During the year, 33,016 persons sought asylum, compared with 23,571 in 2001. Applicants included 5,842 persons from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and 5,446 persons from Iraq. The Government approved 7,941 applications in 2001. Applications can remain under consideration for long periods of time with applicants in uncertain status. The appeals process in the courts may extend cases for several years, although there were few such cases.
NGOs continued to complain that the country lacked a transparent process for making decisions in asylum cases. They maintained that the asylum procedures lacked rules to guide the conduct of authorities and to ensure legal protection for asylum seekers. The procedures accorded great discretion to individuals in decisionmaking positions. According to NGOs, the decision makers used arbitrary, unspecified, and inconsistent criteria. NGOs also criticized the unclear burden of proof and the lack of a process for appeal to an independent court.
The U.N. Committee Against Torture, which criticized Sweden in 2000 and 2001 for decisions by the Migration Board, received one case against the country during the year – from the spouse of an Egyptian asylum seeker forcibly returned to Egypt in December 2001 after his asylum claim had been rejected.
The Government expeditiously returned asylum seekers from EU countries or from countries with which there were reciprocal return agreements. In most cases, persons who were returned expeditiously had passed through or had asylum determinations pending in other EU countries. In many cases, asylum seekers were deported within 72 hours of arrival, and NGOs were critical of their lack of access to legal counsel. To remedy this situation, the Government continued to experiment with pilot programs at selected border crossings to provide expeditious legal assistance.
According to the Migration Board, the cases of the 400 Albanian Kosovars whose applications for permanent residence were pending at the end of 2001 were being reviewed on an individual rather than group basis, and some cases remained pending at year's end.
In 2001 the country joined the Schengen Group, which led to an increase in the number of asylum seekers. To provide for the processing of the growing number of asylum applications, the Government increased the budget of the Migration Board by $49 million (436 million SEK) in 2001 and an additional $6 million (53 million SEK) during the year.
A 2001 citizen act permits the possibility of a citizen having dual nationality and makes it easier for stateless children who were born in, or entered the country to acquire citizenship.
Swedish human rights organizations, particularly Amnesty International, strongly criticized the December 2001 forcible return to Egypt of two Egyptian asylum-seekers whose asylum claims had been rejected.
There were no reports of the forced return of persons to a country where they feared persecution.
3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
The Constitution provides citizens with the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercised this right in practice through periodic, free, and fair elections held on the basis of universal suffrage. Elections to the 349-member unicameral Parliament are held every 4 years; the last such elections were held in September.
Women participated actively in the political process and Government. Women constituted 45 percent of the Parliament and 55 percent of the Cabinet. The governing Social Democratic Party largely kept its pledge to place women in half of all political appointments at all levels. The Parliament included representatives of the principal religious, ethnic, and immigrant groups.
4. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restrictions, investigating and publishing their findings. Government officials were very cooperative and responsive to their views. Several private organizations actively monitored issues such as the effect of social legislation, anti-immigrant or racist activities, and the condition of the indigenous Sami population. Government agencies were in close contact with a variety of local and international groups working in the country and abroad to improve human rights observance.
The official government ombudsmen may publicize abuses of state authority and initiate actions to rectify such abuses.
5. Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Disability, Language, or Social Status
The Constitution provides for equal rights for all citizens.
Violence against women remained a problem. A report of the National Council for Crime Prevention indicated an increased tendency towards violence against women where the perpetrator was an acquaintance. During the year, 21,420 cases of assault against women (excluding rape) were reported, compared with 20,481 in 2001. Most involved spousal abuse. In most of the assaults, the perpetrator was an acquaintance of the victim. An average of 30 murders of women and girls are reported each year, half of them by men closely related to the victim. The number of reported rapes of persons over age 14 was 1,791, compared with 2,078 in 2001. The law does not differentiate between spousal and non-spousal rape.
The law provides complainants with protection from contact with their abusers, if so desired. In some cases, the authorities helped women obtain new identities and homes. The Government provided electronic alarms or bodyguards for women in extreme danger of assault. Both national and local governments helped fund volunteer groups that provided shelter and other assistance to abused women, and both private and public organizations ran shelters. There was a hot line for victims of crime, and police were trained to deal with violence against women. The authorities strove to apprehend and prosecute abusers. Typically the sentence for abuse is a prison term – 14 months on average – or psychiatric treatment. However, women complained about short sentences and the early release of offenders.
Trafficking in women for purposes of sexual exploitation was a problem (see Section 6.f.). The purchase or attempted purchase of sexual services is illegal.
The law prohibits sexual harassment and specifies clearly employers' responsibilities to prevent and, if applicable, to investigate sexual harassment in the workplace and to formulate and post a specific policy and guidelines for the workplace. Employers who do not investigate and intervene against harassment at work may be obliged to pay damages to the victim. As with other forms of discrimination, women and men may take complaints to the courts or to their unions. To combat gender discrimination in the long term, the Equal Opportunities Act requires all employers, both in the public and private sector, actively to promote equal opportunities for women and men in the workplace.
The law requires employers to treat men and women alike in hiring, promotion, and pay, including equal pay for comparable work. Some sectors of the labor market showed significant gender disparities, many with a strong preponderance of either men or women. According to 2001 statistics, women's salaries were approximately 80 percent of men's salaries. Adjusting for age, education, and occupational differences between men and women, women's salaries averaged 90 percent of men's salaries. The equal opportunity Ombudsman, a public official, investigates complaints of gender discrimination in the labor market (see Section 4). Women and men also may pursue complaints through the courts. A third option, and by far the most common, involves settling allegations with the employee's labor union as mediator. In 2001 approximately 170 gender discrimination cases were registered with the equal opportunity Ombudsman; 142 of the cases were closed – 26 were settled, 26 were withdrawn, 58 could not be proved, 14 were tried by the Labor Court, and 18 were closed for other reasons, usually because of the statute of limitations. During the year, 129 cases were registered: Women filed approximately 90 percent, and 50 percent concerned salary issues.
All employers with more than 10 employees must prepare an annual equality plan, including a survey of pay differences between male and female employees. The equal opportunity Ombudsman reviews these plans. The law requires from every employer a survey made with a union representative analyzing wage differences. If gender is found to be the cause for a difference in salary, pay must be equalized within 3 years.
In 2000 the Government began to pay damages to the thousands of women who were forcibly sterilized between 1934 and 1976 (see Section 1.f.).
The Government is committed strongly to children's rights and welfare; it amply funds systems of public education and medical care. An official children's Ombudsman monitors the Government's programs. The Government provides compulsory, free, and universal primary school education for children 9 to 16 years of age. It also provides free medical and dental care for all children up to the age of 16 (19 for dental care). Parents received approximately $1,000 (9,000 SEK) per year for each child under 16 years of age.
Although the physical abuse of children appeared relatively uncommon, public and authorities remained concerned by data indicating an increase in cases of abuse over the past several years. During the year, there were 7,235 reported cases of abuse of children under the age of 15. In addition to 374 reported cases of rape, there were 2,700 reported cases of sexual abuse of children, compared with 2,480 reported cases of child sexual abuse and 327 reported cases of rape in 2001.
The law prohibits parents or other caretakers from abusing children mentally or physically in any way. Parents, teachers, and other adults are subject to prosecution if they physically punish a child, including slapping or spanking. Children have the right to report such abuses to the police. The usual sentence for such an offense is a fine combined with counseling and monitoring by social workers. However, if the situation warrants, authorities may remove children from their homes and place them in foster care. Foster parents virtually never received permission to adopt long-term foster children, even in cases where the biological parents were seen as unfit or seek no contact with the child. Critics charged that this policy placed the rights of biological parents over the needs of children for security in permanent family situations.
The Government allocated funds to private organizations concerned with children's rights. An NGO, Children's Rights in Society, offered counseling to troubled youngsters. The Government continued to be active internationally in efforts to prevent child abuse.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination by employers against persons with disabilities in hiring decisions and prohibits universities from discriminating against students with disabilities in making admission decisions. No other specific laws prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities, although considerable efforts were made to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy equal opportunities. There is an Ombudsman for Disability Issues. The Government provides for freedom of access and social support as basic rights for citizens with disabilities. In January the Government directed a parliamentary committee to take a broader perspective on the legislation on discrimination, particularly on how to improve legal protection against discrimination for persons with disabilities, and the committee is to present its report in 2004. Regulations for new buildings require full accessibility, but there is no such requirement for existing public buildings, with the exception of public authorities who are obliged to make their facilities accessible. Many buildings and some public transportation remained inaccessible. Deaf children have the right to education in sign language. The parents of children with disabilities and workers with disabilities under the age of 65 receive financial assistance every 7 years to buy a car adapted to the person's disability.
The country counts at least 17,000 Sami (formerly known as Lapps) in its population (Sami organizations place that number at 25,000 to 30,000). Since 1993 the Sametinget (Sami Parliament) has acted as an advisory body to the Government. Sami issues fall under the Ministry of Agriculture. The Government allocated funding to the Sametinget for the establishment of a national information center for Sami issues to be completed by 2004.
In 2000 the Government officially recognized the Sami as a national minority. However, the Sami continued a struggle for recognition as an indigenous people; historically, the Government has resisted granting the Sami such rights. For example, Sami children had no right to education in their native language until a 1977 law obliged the Government to grant Sami at least equal treatment. As a result of such education, northern Sami dialects have enjoyed a renaissance; however, Sami dialects in the southern portions of traditional Sami lands may have too few native speakers to survive as living languages.
In 1994 the Government removed from the Sami the right to control hunting and fishing activities on Sami village lands, permitting instead completely unlimited hunting and fishing activity on all government property. Following an initiative from Sami representatives and landowners, in June the Government allocated approximately $205,000 (1,818,000 SEK) to a joint project between the National Federation of Forest Owners and the National Union of the Swedish Sami to increase dialogue and networking.
Some Sami stated that they faced discrimination in housing and employment on an individual basis, particularly in the southern mountain regions.
Approximately 11 percent of Sweden's population is foreign born, with the largest groups from Finland, Iran, and the former Yugoslavia. In 2001 (the latest year for which statistics were available) there were 2,670 reports of xenophobic crimes of which 975 were related to neo-Nazism.
Most estimates placed the number of active neo-Nazis – or white supremacists – at fewer than 3,000, and there appeared to be little popular support for their activities or sentiments. The Government investigated and prosecuted race-related crimes, although in many clashes between Swedish and immigrant youth gangs, authorities judged both sides to be at fault. Neo-Nazi groups operated legally, but serious debate in the press continued about outlawing such groups. Court decisions have held that it is illegal to wear xenophobic symbols or racist paraphernalia. Rightwing groups were not permitted to display signs and banners with provocative symbols at their rallies. A march in Salem on December 7 – the second anniversary of the murder of a skinhead in a Stockholm suburb – attracted approximately 1,200 rightwing extremists, the largest neo-Nazi march in the country since World War II. Earlier on the same day, in the same neighborhood anti-racist activists carried out a counterdemonstration.
The public continued to urge a tougher stance against neo-Nazi groups. During the year, several demonstrations against violence and racism were organized throughout the country. The Government supported volunteer groups that opposed racism and xenophobia and allocated funding for projects supporting those who have left neo-Nazi and other racist organizations.
The Ombudsman for ethnic discrimination reported 305 complaints of ethnic discrimination in the labor market during the year, compared with 274 such complaints in 2001.
The law recognizes the Sami people, Swedish Finns, Tornedal-Finns, Roma, and Jews as national minorities. The Government supported and protected minority languages.
The Prime Minister announced establishment of an independent center to fight racism and intolerance.
6. Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The law entitles workers to form and join unions of their choice, and workers exercise this right. The work force consisted of approximately 4.4 million persons, of which approximately 85 percent were unionized. Career military personnel, police officers, and civilian government officials, as well as private sector workers in both manufacturing and service industries, were organized. Most business owners belonged to counterpart employer organizations. Unions and employer organizations operated independently of the Government and political parties (although the largest federation of unions has always been linked with the largest political party, the Social Democrats).
The law protects union officials and members from dismissal or reprisals for official union activities.
Unions have the right to affiliate with international bodies. Most unions are affiliated with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the European Trade Union Confederation among others.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The law provides for collective bargaining, and workers exercised this right. Cooperation between management and labor tends to be excellent and nonconfrontational. Labor and management, each represented by a national organization by sector (for example, retailers and engineering industries), negotiate framework agreements every 2 to 3 years. More detailed company-level agreements put such framework agreements into effect at the local level. Framework agreements are signed every year between the parties on the labor market to regulate the wage increase. Most agreements with labor unions provide for a degree of individualized pay, including merit bonuses.
The law provides both workers and employers with effective mechanisms for resolving complaints. The vast majority of complaints were resolved informally. In some instances, unions demanded collective agreements regardless of the views and union status of employees. A government agency, the National Mediation office, mediated labor disputes to promote an efficient wage formation process.
The law provides for the right to strike, as well as for employers to organize and to conduct lockouts. Within limits protecting the public's immediate health and security, public employees also enjoy the right to strike. The Government generally respected these laws in practice. During the year, there were 4 legal and 6 illegal strikes reported, involving approximately 700 employees and 630 workdays.
There were no export processing zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Bonded Labor
The law prohibits forced or bonded labor, including by children, and there were no reports that such practices occurred.
d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment
The law permits full-time employment at age 16 under the supervision of local authorities. Employees under age 18 may work only during the daytime and under supervision. Children as young as 13 years may work part-time or in "light" work with parental permission. Union representatives, police, and public prosecutors effectively enforced these restrictions.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
There is no national minimum wage law. Wages are set by collective bargaining contracts every year, which nonunion establishments usually observe as well. Even the lowest paid workers were able to maintain a decent standard of living for themselves and their families through substantial benefits (such as housing or daycare support) provided by social welfare entitlement programs.
The legal standard workweek is 40 hours or less. Both the law and collective bargaining agreements regulate overtime and rest periods. For workers not covered by a labor agreement, the law stipulates a limit for overtime at 200 hours per year, although exceptions may be granted for key employees with union approval; some collective bargaining agreements put the limit at 150 hours. The law requires a rest period after 5 hours of work but does not stipulate a minimum duration; in practice it was usually 30 minutes. The law also requires a minimum period of 36 hours of rest, preferably on weekends, during a period of 7 days. The law also provides all employees with a minimum of 5 weeks of paid annual leave; labor contracts often provide more, particularly for higher ranking private sector employees and older public service workers. Amendments to the labor law in 2001 permitted employers with fewer than 10 workers to exempt 2 persons from last-in, first-out rules when discharging employees.
Occupational health and safety rules are set by a government-appointed board, the Work Environment Authority, and monitored by trained union stewards, safety ombudsmen, and, occasionally government inspectors. These standards were very high, making workplaces both safe and healthy in general. Safety ombudsmen have the authority to stop unsafe activity immediately and to call in an inspector. An individual also has the right to halt work in dangerous situations in order to consult a supervisor or safety representative without endangering continued employment.
Unions played an important role in preventing discrimination in the labor market. A special court dealing only with labor related issues hears complaints filed by unions against companies regarding acts of discrimination on the basis of race or gender
The same minimum terms of employment apply to foreign and Swedish workers.
f. Trafficking in Persons
In July a law prohibiting the trafficking of persons for sexual purposes entered into force; it provides for sentences of 2 to 10 years in prison for persons convicted of trafficking. The attempt to traffic and the conspiracy to traffic were also criminalized. Trafficking was a problem.
The purchase or attempt at purchasing sexual services is illegal. Law enforcement primarily uses laws against pandering and an offense called "placing in distress," which can be used in cases where traffickers lure women from other countries under false pretenses. Traffickers sentenced for pandering can face up to 6 years in prison, but most sentences were for 2 to 3 years. During the first 8 months of the year, the state prosecuted three cases of trafficking for sexual purposes, compared with five such cases in all of 2001.
Women were trafficked to the country for prostitution and sexual exploitation. According to the police, the country remained primarily a trafficking destination and only became a transit nation in 2001. Trafficked women, numbering 200 to 500 per year, came principally from Central Europe, the Baltic states, and Russia; those transiting came primarily from the Baltic region, and the principal destination countries were Spain, Germany, Denmark, and Norway. There have been occasional cases of trafficked women from Colombia and Cuba.
The women typically were recruited in their own countries to work as cleaners, babysitters, or similar employment. Once in Sweden, victims were isolated and intimidated by traffickers, and worked as prostitutes in hotels, restaurants, massage parlors, or private apartments. Some reportedly were "purchased" from other traffickers and brought into Sweden. There were reports that traffickers locked women up and confiscated their passports. National Criminal Investigation Department reports indicated that younger women, many of them minors, were subjected to trafficking.
Trafficked women in general did not receive temporary residence permits; in some cases they were deported immediately. Victims of trafficking rarely were detained; however, at times they were held for a short period prior to deportation by the police or in a camp run by the Migration Board. The Government allocated funds to NGOs for providing shelter to victims and rehabilitation.
The Government provided funding to NGOs and international organizations that combat trafficking worldwide. For example, the Government provided funds to the Foundation of Women's Forums to combat trafficking in women in the Nordic and Baltic nations by creating interactive networks that link NGOs and research institutions that deal with prevention and the rehabilitation of trafficked women.