SWEDEN (Tier 1)

Sweden is a destination, and, to a lesser extent, a transit country for women trafficked from Romania, Russia, Nigeria, Albania, Tanzania, Thailand, and Estonia for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Some of these women are trafficked through Sweden to Norway, Denmark, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Women and children from Romania are trafficked to Sweden for the purpose of forced begging. One man from Ukraine was trafficked to Sweden for the purpose of begging and petty theft. In 2008, a Swedish national was identified as a victim of trafficking in another EU country, where her alleged trafficker attempted to force her into prostitution. The Swedish police estimate that 400 to 600 persons are trafficked to Sweden annually, primarily for forced prostitution.

The Government of Sweden fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. In January 2009, Sweden used its anti-trafficking law to prosecute and convict labor traffickers for the first time. The government allocated $26 million to implement the Ministry for Integration and Gender Equality's two-year comprehensive anti-trafficking action plan in Sweden and in select source countries, which included measures to prevent sex trafficking, improve victim assistance and the victim repatriation system, provide training for law enforcement and judges, and improve screening for potential victims during the visa application process.

Recommendations for Sweden: Consider increased use of the 2002 anti-trafficking law to prosecute trafficking offenders; improve efforts to collect trafficking specific law enforcement data; develop and implement formal procedures for the identification of trafficking victims and increase efforts to identify victims; improve labor trafficking awareness and coordination among local and regional police; continue training judges on the application of the anti-trafficking law; and continue efforts to better identify, address and prevent child trafficking to Sweden.


The government continued its law enforcement efforts to fight sex trafficking and improved efforts to address labor trafficking over 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, penalties that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes. Prosecutors continued, however, to rely on a prostitution procurement law with weaker penalties to prosecute and convict some sex traffickers. In 2008, police conducted 15 sex trafficking and eight labor trafficking investigations, compared to 15 investigations reported in 2007. Authorities prosecuted four labor trafficking offenders and nine sex trafficking offenders, compared to 13 prosecutions in 2007. Four individuals were convicted for labor trafficking and eight individuals were convicted for sex trafficking, compared to two labor trafficking convictions and 11 sex trafficking convictions in 2007. Sentences given to nine convicted traffickers ranged from six to 78 months' imprisonment.


Sweden provided adequate victim assistance during the reporting period, although the number of victims assisted decreased over the reporting period. Police received some victim identification training and referred identified victims to NGOs for assistance. The government funded NGOs both in Sweden and abroad to provide victim rehabilitation, health care, vocational training, and legal assistance. Identified foreign victims were granted a minimum 30-day temporary residency permit that provided them with access to health care and social services. Swedish authorities encouraged victims to participate in trafficking investigations and prosecutions; victims who declined to participate in investigations were subject to deportation after the 30-day reflection period, although no victims were deported from Sweden in 2008. Over the reporting period, six victims received state-funded assistance compared to 11 victims in 2007. Four victims received temporary residency permits to remain in Sweden for the duration of the relevant criminal trial, a decrease from 10 victims given such temporary permits in 2007. The Swedish government provided temporary residency to certain victims, but did not otherwise offer legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution. The government did not punish victims for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked.


The Government of Sweden demonstrated efforts to raise awareness and prevent trafficking over the reporting period. The local government in Stockholm conducted an awareness campaign targeted at cab drivers and hotel and restaurant personnel who are likely to come in contact with victims of trafficking; the campaign consisted of posters and television advertisements and provided information on how the public can report suspected instances of trafficking. In July 2008, the Ministry for Integration and Gender Equality adopted a comprehensive anti-trafficking action plan, which in part requires increased efforts to prevent commercial sexual exploitation.


This 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.