The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001.  Please see for material released since President George W. Bush took office on that date.  This site is not updated so external links may no longer function.  Contact us with any questions about finding information.

NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Department Seal




Sweden is a constitutional monarchy and a multiparty, 
parliamentary democracy.  The King is Chief of State.  The 
Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister, exercises executive 
authority.  The judiciary is independent of the Government.

The Government effectively controls the police, all security 
organizations, and the armed forces.

Sweden has an advanced industrial economy, mainly market-based, 
and a high standard of living, with extensive social services.

Ombudsmen, appointed by the Parliament but with full autonomy, 
investigate the few complaints of alleged abuses by 
authorities, and prescribe corrective action if required.  The 
human rights situation has continued to be favorable.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial 

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits these abuses, and the authorities respect 
such prohibitions.  There have been occasional accusations of 
excessive use of force by police in arrests, but thorough 
investigations have not produced evidence of a systematic 
problem.  Typically, police officers found guilty of abuse have 
been suspended or otherwise disciplined.  During 1994 a few 
police trainees were found unsuitable for the work and were 

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Government carefully observes the laws protecting persons 
arrested or detained.  Arrests are public and by warrant.  The 
police must lodge charges within 6 hours against persons 
detained for disturbing the public order or considered 
dangerous, and within 12 hours against those detained on other 
grounds.  The law requires arraignment within 48 hours of 
arrest.  The time between arrest and the first court hearing 
may be extended to 96 hours for detainees considered dangerous, 
likely to destroy evidence, or likely to flee, but this occurs 
very rarely.  Other than such suspects, detainees are routinely 
released pending trial, although bail as such does not exist.  
If a person files for bankruptcy and refuses to cooperate with 
the official investigation, a court may order detention for up 
to 3 months, with judicial review every 2 weeks.

The Government does not impose exile.

Convicted foreign criminals are often deported at the 
conclusion of their prison terms, unless they risk execution or 
other severe punishment in their home country.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judiciary is free of governmental interference.

The Constitution forbids deprivation of liberty without public 
trial by a court of law, and the Government respects this 
provision.  The accused have the right to competent counsel, 
but the Government provides public defenders to indigents only 
in cases where the maximum penalty could be a prison sentence 
of six months or more.  Convicted persons have the right of 
appeal in most instances.

There are no political prisoners.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

The law limits home searches to investigations of crimes 
punishable by at least 2 years' imprisonment, such as murder, 
robbery, rape, arson, sabotage, counterfeiting, or treason.  
The authorities respect this provision.  Normally, police must 
obtain court approval for a search or wiretap; however, a 
senior police officer may approve a search if time is a 
critical factor or there appears to be a threat to life.  A 
parliamentary committee each year reviews all monitoring of 
telephones, faxes, or computers.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and 
the Government respects these provisions.  Most newspapers and 
periodicals are privately owned.  The Government subsidizes 
daily newspapers, regardless of political affiliation.  
Broadcasters operate under a state concession.  Until recently 
the State had a monopoly over ground-based broadcasting, but 
there are now a variety of commercial television channels (a 
ground-based one and several via satellite or cable) and 
several commercial radio stations.

The Government may censor publications containing national 
security information.  A quasi-governmental body excises 
graphic violence from films, television programs, and videos.

Academic freedom is fully respected.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for freedom of peaceful assembly and 
association, and the Government does not restrict this.  A 
police permit is required for public demonstrations, but the 
authorities routinely grant this, with rare exceptions to 
prevent clashes between adversarial groups.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the 
Government does not hamper the teaching or practice of any 
faith.  There is a state Lutheran Church, supported by public 
funds, but the Government routinely grants any request by a 
taxpayer for exemption from the Church Tax.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The law provides for free movement within, from, and back to 
the country, and the Government respects these rights.

Foreigners with suspected links to terrorist organizations may 
be required to report regularly to police authorities, but can 
travel freely; each such case must be reviewed by the courts at 
least every 3 years.

The Government cooperates with the U.N. High Commissioner for 
Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in 
assisting refugees, and does not expel those having a valid 
claim to refugee status.

In 1993 the Government denied asylum to a Peruvian, and put her 
on an aircraft headed for Peru even though, according to 
Amnesty International (AI), she faced severe persecution there; 
the aircraft made a scheduled stop in the Netherlands, and she 
obtained asylum there.  AI criticized the Swedish Government 
for this case in its report covering 1993.

The Government has continued to tighten its requirements for 
asylum seekers to prove reasonable fear of persecution in their 
homeland, although these requirements remain liberal.  One 
well-known case involves a soldier from the former Yugoslavia 
who said he deserted rather than carry out orders to commit 
atrocities; after extensive publicity, the Government delayed 
his deportation for further examination.

The Government delayed deportation of  a great many other 
illegal immigrants, on humanitarian grounds in most cases.  In 
April it granted a one-time amnesty covering some 22,000 
illegal immigrants from Bosnia who had children of minor age 
and who had been in Sweden since January 1993.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The Constitution provides ways and means for citizens to change 
the Government.  Elections to the 349-member unicameral 
Parliament are held every 4 years.  Suffrage is universal for 
citizens at least 18 years old, and balloting is secret.

Women participate actively in the political process and 
government.  They account for 41 percent of the members of 
Parliament and half of the Cabinet.  The governing Social 
Democratic Party pledged to place women in half of all 
political appointments, and by year's end had largely done so.

Section 4  Government Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Several private organizations actively monitor issues such as 
the impact of social legislation and the condition of the 
indigenous Sami population.  Official ombudsmen publicize 
abuses of state authority, and initiate actions to rectify 
them.  Government agencies are in close contact with a variety 
of local and international groups working in Sweden and abroad 
to improve human rights observance.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution provides for equal rights for all citizens, 
and the Government respects this provision.


The law requires employers to treat men and women alike in 
hiring, promotion, and pay.  A public official, the Equality 
Ombudsman, investigates complaints of sex discrimination in the 
labor market; in July she was granted authority to visit all 
places of work to check on implementation of equality 
measures.  Women may also pursue complaints through the 
courts.  A third option, and by far the one most chosen, is to 
submit the complaint to the labor union for mediation with the 
employer.  Almost all gains in women's rights took place 
through consensus and labor negotiations, with relatively 
little resort to legislation.

Despite the available remedies, surveys show that women remain 
underrepresented in higher-paying jobs, their salaries 
averaging only 72 percent of men's (a decrease from a high near 
80 percent only a decade ago).  Part of this decrease reflects 
cuts in social-sector jobs, where women are overrepresented.  
Also, under the tight economic conditions in recent years, 
unions have been less willing to pursue claims of pay 
discrimination.  Fewer than a dozen women in 1994 chose to seek 
redress through the courts when their unions refused to take up 
their complaints.  Women submit hundreds of complaints to the 
Ombudsman each year (260 in 1992--latest data), but almost all 
of these complaints are either resolved or dropped before the 
Ombudsman takes action.

The law prohibits sexual harassment, and in this regard, too, 
women may take complaints to the Equality Ombudsman, the 
courts, or their unions.

Nearly 18,000 cases of assault against women over age 15 were 
reported to police in 1993 (latest data), a rise of 2,000 from 
1992.  Most involved spousal abuse, and in some three-quarters 
of all cases the perpetrator was an acquaintance of the 
victim.  Abuse of women occurs especially often within the 
immigrant community.  In one controversial case, in which a 
Palestinian Christian immigrant killed his daughter for 
marrying a Moslem, the court convicted him of manslaughter 
rather than murder because of his cultural background; but a 
higher court overturned the decision, convicting the father of 
murder and lengthening his sentence accordingly.

The law provides for measures to protect abused women from 
having their abusers discover their whereabouts or contact 
them.  In some cases the authorities have helped women obtain 
new identities and homes.  In 1994 the Government provided 
electronic alarms or bodyguards for women in extreme danger of 
assault.  Both the national and local governments support 
voluntary groups that provide shelter and other assistance to 
abused women.  The authorities strive to apprehend and 
prosecute abusers.  Typically, the sentence for abuse is a 
prison term or psychiatric treatment.

The number of reported rapes, some 1,400 yearly, has remained 
at approximately the same level since 1989.  There is no legal 
differentiation between spousal and nonspousal rape.


Although indications are that child abuse is not common, the 
public and the authorities are concerned by data indicating it 
has been on the rise.  The number of reports of abuse of 
children under the age of 15 years rose significantly in 1993 
(latest data), to 3,300 from 2,700 in 1992.  To some extent 
this probably reflects an increased willingness to report 
abuse, but child advocates fear it largely reflects an actual 
rise due to the strains imposed on families by the worsening 
economic situation.

The law prohibits parents or other caretakers from abusing 
children mentally or physically in any way.  Parents, teachers, 
and other adults are subject to prosecution if they physically 
punish a child in any way, including slapping or spanking.  
Children have the right to report such abuses to the police.  
The authorities respect these laws, and have prosecuted some 
parents for abuses.  The usual sentence is a fine combined with 
counseling and monitoring by social workers; but if the 
situation warrants, children may be removed from the home and 
placed in foster care.  Foster children are virtually never 
allowed to be adopted, even in cases where the parents are seen 
as unfit or seek no contact with the child; critics charge that 
this policy places the rights of biological parents over the 
needs of children for care by caring families.

The Government allocates funds to private organizations 
concerned with children's rights.  In 1993 it appointed an 
Ombudsman for Children.  During her first year she focused 
mainly on the Government's adherence to international 
agreements, and found only one case meriting criticism, that of 
a 17-year-old who was given an 18-month prison term for robbery.

     Indigenous Peoples

Some 17,000 Samis (Lapps) are among Sweden's 8.5 million 
inhabitants.  In 1994 a Sami parliamentary body, the 
Sametinget, was formed; it is to convene four times a year, and 
is to serve as a consultative body to the Government.

Also in 1994, Samis staged protest demonstrations against a 
1993 law permitting others to hunt on designated reindeer 
pastures, and demonstrations against a 1994 law permitting 
others to fish in lakes previously reserved for Samis.

Samis also complain that in their localities they often 
encounter discrimination against them in housing and 
employment, and that the Government is not doing enough to 
combat this.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

There continued to be scattered acts against minorities, some 
involving violence.  Most involved clashes between ethnic 
Swedish and non-Swedish youths.  At least a dozen immigrants 
were physically assaulted, and several businesses and homes 
were burned or otherwise damaged.  The Government vigorously 
investigated and prosecuted such crimes, although in many 
clashes between youth gangs, both sides seem to have been at 
fault.  Most cases resulted in conviction and prison terms, 
unless the offender was a minor.

In 1993 the Government shifted responsibility for processing 
refugees to the local level, requiring every municipality to 
accept a proportional number of refugees and provide for their 
needs.  A few municipalities continued to refuse to do so, on 
the grounds that they lack adequate resources.  By year's end 
their resistance had not yet been put to a test.

     People with Disabilities

Regulations for new buildings require that they be fully 
accessible to disabled persons.  However, there is no such  
requirement for existing public buildings, and many are not 
accessible to unaided disabled persons.  The law prohibits 
discrimination against people with disabilities.  The 
Government provides disabled persons with assistance aimed at 
allowing them to live as normal a life as possible, preferably 
outside an institutional setting.  This includes educational 
assistance, such as provision of personal tutors or aides, at 
all stages from pre-kindergarten day care to university 
studies; assistance within the workplace, such as provision of 
a personal aide or improvement of the workplace's accessibility 
to wheelchairs; and provision of services such as home care or 
group living.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The law provides for freedom of workers to associate and to 
strike.  The Government respects these provisions.  Some 87 
percent of the work force belong to trade unions, including 
career military personnel, police officers, and civilian 
government officials.  Unions are independent of the Government 
and political parties, although the largest federation of 
unions has been allied for many years with the largest 
political party.

Laws forbid retribution against legal strikers.  Only a few 
minor strikes took place in 1994, and most of them were settled 

Unions freely affiliate internationally.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The law provides for the right of workers to organize and to 
bargain collectively.  Labor and management, each represented 
by a central organization, periodicially negotiate framework 
agreements which are followed by industry- and factory-level 
agreements on details.

The law fully protects workers from antiunion discrimination 
and provides effective mechanisms for resolving complaints.  
Almost all complaints are settled informally.  If informal 
discussions fail, the issue goes to a labor court, whose ruling 
on it sets a precedent to be followed by other courts.  Cases 
of an employer firing an employee for union activities are very 
rare; in 1994 there were none.

There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, and the 
authorities effectively enforce this ban.

     d.  Minimum Age of Employment of Children

Compulsory 9-year education ends at age 16, and full-time 
employment is normally permitted at that age under supervision 
of local authorities.  Employees under age 18 may work only 
during daytime and under a foreman's supervision.  During 
summers and other vacation periods, children as young as 13 may 
be hired for part-time or light work, with no more than a 5-day 
workweek.  Police and public prosecutors effectively enforce 
the restrictions.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

There is no national minimum wage law.  Wages are set by 
collective bargaining contracts, which usually are observed 
also by nonunion establishments.  Even the lowest-paid workers 
are able to maintain a decent standard of living for themselves 
and their families because substantial assistance is available 
from social welfare entitlements.

The standard workweek is 40 hours or less.  Overtime and rest 
periods are regulated partly by law and partly by collective 
bargaining agreements.  The law stipulates that for workers not 
covered by a labor agreement, the limit for overtime is 200 
hours a year, although exceptions may be granted for key 
employees; some collective bargaining agreements put the limit 
at 150 hours.  The law requires a rest period after 5 hours of 
work, but does not stipulate a minimum duration; in practice it 
is usually at least 30 minutes.  The law also calls for all 
employees to have a minimum of 5 weeks of paid annual leave; 
many labor contracts provide more.

Occupational health and safety rules are set by a 
government-appointed board and monitored by trained union 
stewards, safety ombudsmen, and, occasionally, government 
inspectors.  The ombudsmen have the authority to stop 
life-threatening activity immediately and to call in a labor 


[end of document]


Department Seal

Return to 1994 Human Rights Practices report home page.
Return to DOSFAN home page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.