Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2017, 12:01 GMT

Amnesty International Report 2009 - Sweden

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 28 May 2009
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2009 - Sweden, 28 May 2009, available at: [accessed 23 November 2017]
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.

Head of state: King Carl XVI Gustaf
Head of government: Fredrik Reinfeldt
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 9.2 million
Life expectancy: 80.5 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 4/4 per 1,000

Two victims of rendition were awarded compensation, although no decision was made on their applications for residence in Sweden. The level of protection given to asylum-seekers from Iraq was reduced. Relatively few cases of rape reported to the police resulted in a criminal trial.

Counter-terror and security

Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed El Zari were awarded around 3,160,000 Swedish kronor (€307,000) in compensation for the grave violations they suffered during and as a result of their unlawful deportation from Sweden to Egypt in December 2001. Both men were tortured while held incommunicado in Egypt. They had been denied access to a full and fair asylum determination process in Sweden, and were deported on the strength of worthless "diplomatic assurances" given by the Egyptian authorities.

Mohammed El Zari was released from prison in Egypt in October 2003, without ever having been charged. Ahmed Agiza remained in prison in Egypt, following an unfair trial before a military court. The Swedish government did not make a final decision on the appeals brought by both men against the rejection of their applications for residence permits in Sweden.

In June the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) called on Sweden to investigate in depth the reasons for the deportation of Mohammed El Zari and Ahmed Agiza and, if appropriate, prosecute those responsible.

  • In June, the Migration Board rejected an application for a residence permit from Adel Hakim, a refugee released from US custody in Guantánamo in May 2006. Adel Hakim, a Chinese national from the Uighur ethnic group, was transferred from Guantánamo along with four other Uighurs to Albania, which had agreed to offer the men protection. Adel Hakim applied for residence in Sweden during a visit in 2007, in part because his sister lives there. The Migration Board rejected his application on the grounds that he already had a right to reside in Albania. Adel Hakim remained in Sweden awaiting the outcome of an appeal.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

In June the CAT expressed concern that the detention of asylum-seekers before deportation was common, and regretted that Swedish law provides "no absolute limit on the length of time that an asylum-seeker can be detained".

Most new applications from Iraqi asylum-seekers were rejected after the Migration Board and the Migration Court of Appeal decided that there was no internal armed conflict in Iraq. Previously, the majority of asylum-seekers from Iraq had received some form of protection.

In February, the authorities in Sweden and Iraq reached an agreement on the forcible return to Iraq of rejected asylum-seekers. Prior to this, only Iraqi nationals who agreed to be returned were accepted by the Iraqi authorities.

The Swedish authorities continued to reject applications from Eritrean asylum-seekers. This exposed them to the risk of being returned to Eritrea, despite the UNHCR's recommendation that all states should halt forcible returns to Eritrea. At least one Eritrean national was forcibly returned from Sweden to Eritrea, in April.

In October, the CAT requested the temporary suspension of the planned deportation to Eritrea of another Eritrean national while it considered whether she would be at risk of torture if returned.

Violence against women and girls

Only an estimated 12 per cent of cases of rape reported to the police resulted in a trial. A lack of systematic independent research into, and analysis of, rape investigations and prosecution decisions in rape cases impeded efforts to strengthen the protection given to survivors of rape.

In June, the CAT expressed regret at the lack of national statistics on domestic violence and called on Sweden to increase efforts to prevent, combat and punish violence against women and children, including domestic violence and crimes committed against women and children in the name of honour.

Amnesty International reports

  • State of denial: Europe's role in rendition and secret detention (24 June 2008)
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