Head of state: King Carl XVI Gustaf
Head of government: Fredrik Reinfeldt
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 9.2 million
Life expectancy: 80.8 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 4/4 per 1,000

The government did not exclude resorting to "diplomatic assurances" to send people to countries where they may face torture or other ill-treatment. Two victims of rendition (unlawful transfer of suspects between countries) were denied residence permits. Deportations of asylum-seekers whose claims had not been finally determined gave rise to concern.

Counter-terror and security

In April, the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) noted that Sweden had not excluded the future use of "diplomatic assurances" to permit the sending of individuals to countries where they may face torture or other ill-treatment. It recommended that the government should ensure that no one, including anyone suspected of terrorism, was exposed to the danger of torture or other ill-treatment.

  • In November, partly based on information never disclosed to Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed El Zari, the government dismissed their appeals against the refusal to grant them residence permits, thus denying them full reparation for the grave violations they suffered as a result of their rendition on a CIA-leased plane from Sweden to Egypt in December 2001. The authorities did not heed calls for an in-depth investigation into the reasons for the expulsion of the two men.

Guantánamo Bay detainees

In February, the Stockholm Migration Court recognized Adel Abdul Hakim, a Chinese national of Uighur ethnicity released from US custody in Guantánamo Bay in 2006, as a refugee. This decision overturned the June 2008 refusal by the Migration Board to grant him a residence permit.

Torture and other ill-treatment

The HRC expressed concern about the failure to guarantee the right of detained criminal suspects to access a doctor; the reported number of self-inflicted deaths in prisons; and the absence of an effective and independent police complaints body.

In December, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture stated that the authorities had taken insufficient measures to allay its concerns regarding legal safeguards against ill-treatment in police custody; the imposition of restrictions on remand prisoners; and the isolation of certain categories of sentenced prisoners.

  • An investigation into the death of Johan Liljeqvist, a 24-year-old man who had died in April 2008 following his arrest by the police in Gothenburg, was reopened in October amid reports that police investigators had attempted to cover up the extent of the injuries he had sustained.

In December, the Parliamentary Ombudsman criticized the use of pepper spray by the police in certain circumstances. These included in vehicles and on police premises against individuals whom the police already had under control; where there was no threat of violence; or as an inducement to follow police orders.

Sweden failed to introduce torture as a crime in its penal code.

Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants

The HRC expressed concern about deportations of asylum-seekers whose claims had not been finally determined; the use, in some expulsion cases, of information undisclosed to those facing expulsion; and the lengthy detentions of some asylum-seekers. Both the HRC and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture expressed concern about the holding of immigration detainees in remand prisons.

Despite recommendations from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, that all states halt forcible returns to central and southern Iraq and Eritrea, 285 Iraqis were forcibly returned to the former and several Eritreans to the latter.

Asylum-seekers who wished to challenge their transfer to another EU member state under the Dublin II Regulation were not entitled to a suspensive in-country appeal (which would suspend their transfer pending the outcome of the appeal). Those detained while awaiting transfer were denied the right to an appointed legal representative, including in respect of challenges to their detention pending transfer.

In June, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern over the authorities' failure to sufficiently consider the best interests of children seeking asylum, and the large number of unaccompanied children disappearing from reception centres. In November, the government announced it would form a commission to review the system for dealing with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and their housing needs.

Violence against women and girls

The HRC expressed concern about the high prevalence of violence against women, the lack of shelters for women in some municipalities and the continuing occurrence of female genital mutilation (within migrant communities).


The HRC noted the increase of reported racially motivated crimes. The CRC expressed concern at discrimination against and xenophobic and racist attitudes towards children of ethnic minorities, refugee and asylum-seeking children and children belonging to migrant families.

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