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

The Swedish authorities considered a large number of asylum applications to be “manifestly unfounded”. The accelerated asylum-determination procedures applied to these cases did not meet international standards for refugee protection. There were forcible returns to Iraq and Eritrea. Concerns remained about the thoroughness of police investigations into rape cases.

Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants

Forced returns to Eritrea and Iraq continued despite recommendations to the contrary from UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.

In March the High Court of Migration determined that individuals detained pending transfer to another EU member state under the Dublin II Regulation had the right to legal representation to challenge their detention.

In November, the Swedish Migration Board announced it would no longer transfer asylum-seekers to Greece under the Dublin II Regulation following serious concerns about the inadequacy of asylum-determination procedures and detention conditions in the country. Following a court ruling in December, it was further agreed that all such asylum-seekers would have their claims examined in Sweden.

In contrast to recent years, the Swedish authorities considered a large number of asylum applications to be “manifestly unfounded”, the majority of which were Roma applicants from Serbia and Kosovo, according to the Migration Board. The accelerated asylum-determination procedures applied to these cases did not meet international standards for refugee protection; applicants were not given a full asylum interview and were denied access to legal aid. In addition, those whose claims had been rejected could be forcibly returned to their home countries or a third country pending appeal against an initial rejection of their claim.

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Violence against women

In October, the Sexual Offences Commission reviewing the implementation, efficiency and effectiveness of the 2005 Sexual Crimes Act published its final report. The Commission recommended changes to legislation in order to strengthen the protection of individuals’ sexual integrity and autonomy.

The number of reported rapes resulting in a conviction remained low, with the majority of cases being closed in the early stage of the criminal investigation. Concerns continued that investigations into rape cases were inadequate and that police failed to effectively use forensic evidence and to request the right type of forensic legal certificates.

In May, Sweden ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

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Torture and other ill-treatment

Sweden refused to exclude reliance on “diplomatic assurances” to facilitate the deportation of individuals to countries where they might face torture or other ill-treatment, and continued to fail to introduce torture as a crime in its penal code.

  • Ahmed Agiza remained in prison in Egypt following an unfair trial by a military court, and concerns remained about his deteriorating physical health. Sweden continued to fail to fully investigate the renditions of Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed El Zari on a CIA-leased plane from Sweden to Egypt in December 2001, where the two men alleged they were tortured and ill-treated in Egyptian custody. Although the men received monetary compensation, Sweden has failed to provide them with full, effective redress.
  • Two further investigations into the death of Johan Liljeqvist, a 24-year-old man who died in April 2008 following his arrest by the police in Gothenburg, were closed in March and November respectively, despite medical evidence indicating that his death was “connected to the intervention of the police”.

In December, a report examining police investigations into cases of death in police custody, initiated following the Liljeqvist case, was released. The report heavily criticized the adequacy of police investigations in such cases and recommended immediate changes to improve their independence, impartiality and thoroughness.

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Human rights by region

World regions Midde East and North Africa Asia Pacific Europe and Central Asia Africa Americas


A number of countries in Africa celebrated the 50th anniversary of their independence during the year while others prep ...


In the Americas many human rights have been recognized in law, if not always in practice, over the past 50 years. Whi ...

Asia Pacific

In a region with almost two thirds of the world’s population, stretching a third of the way around the planet, ...

Europe & Central Asia

The right to truth and justice, and the determination of victims and their relatives to achieve this how ...

Middle East and North Africa

2010 dawned with Yemen an unusual focus of international attention following an alleged terrorist ...

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