Sweden: Step up efforts to fight systemic racism, UN experts urge


During their visit to the country from October 31 to November 4, members of the International Expert Mechanism gathered information about existing laws and regulations to tackle racial discrimination.

“Collecting, publishing and analyzing data disaggregated by racial or ethnic origin in all aspects of life, especially with regard to interactions with law enforcement and the criminal justice system, is an essential element in designing and assessing responses to systemic racism,” said chairman, Yvonne Mokgoro.

“Sweden must collect and use this data to fight systemic racism”.

Sweden needs to broaden the definition of security – UN independent expert

Race data needed

Together with the Chair, Tracie Keesee and Juan Méndez held meetings and interviews in Stockholm, Malmö and Lund, focusing on both good practices and challenges faced by Sweden in fulfilling its human rights obligations on non-discrimination, in the context of the law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

While the mechanism understands the historical sensitivity surrounding racial classifications in the country, the experts said they were “deeply concerned” about the reluctance of Swedish authorities to collect data broken down by race.

“We have heard that the majority of the population in Sweden generally has confidence in the police, but most of the testimonials we received from members of racialized communities spoke of fear of an oppressive police presence, racial profiling and arbitrary detentions and searches. said Mrs. keesje.

Restoring Police Trust

They met representatives from the Ministries of Justice, Employment and Foreign Affairs, as well as the National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå), the offices of the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Equal Opportunities, and members of the Swedish police, prison and probation services (Kriminalvarden ).

“Sweden should broaden the definition of security that does not rely solely on the police,” she said.

“The police should focus on strategies to restore the trust of the communities they serve, including by diversifying its staff to reflect Sweden’s truly multicultural society,” the expert added.

The mechanism also met members of the Swedish National Human Rights Institution, representatives of civil society and affected communities, as well as members of the Swedish police.

visit prison

In addition, the Mechanism visited police detention centers and pre-trial detention centers in Stockholm and Malmö, where Mr Mendez expressed concern about “an excessive reliance on solitary confinement”.

“More broadly, we are also concerned that Sweden is addressing legitimate security concerns, including growing gang crime, through a response that focuses on excessive policing, surveillance and wrongful deprivation of liberty,” he added.

Mendez called on Sweden to “fully comply with Nelson Mandela rules – formerly the UN’s standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners – and to prioritize alternatives to detention”.

Submit a report

The mechanism has shared its preliminary findings with the government and will prepare a report to be published and submitted to the Human Rights Council in the coming months.

“We will include good practices that we will highlight in our final report, including on police training and resources allocated to the investigation of hate crimes,” Ms Mokgoro said.

Independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to investigate and report on a specific human rights issue. The positions are honorary and they are not paid for their work.

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