Söderman v. Sweden, Sweden, European Court of Human Rights, 2013.
In 2002, when Eliza Söderman (applicant) was 14 years old, she discovered that her stepfather had attempted to secretly film her naked by hiding a recording video camera in the bathroom. The applicant’s mother destroyed the videotape and reported the incident to the police who prosecuted the stepfather for sexual molestation. The stepfather was acquitted on appeal in 2007 because although he had intentionally filmed the minor, his behavior was not covered under the provision of sexual molestation because he had no intention of the applicant finding out about the film. Further, the Swedish appeals court pointed out that there is no general prohibition in Swedish law of filming an individual without their consent, even if that individual is a minor. The applicant brought this complaint to the European Court on Human Rights relying on Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the European Convention on Human Rights to which Sweden is a party. The applicant alleged that Sweden had failed to comply with its obligation to provide her with remedies against her stepfather’s violation of her personal integrity. The court held for the applicant and held that Sweden had violated Article 8. The Court held so because Swedish laws in force at the time allowed for the applicant’s stepfather to film her naked in her home without any remedy. The stepfather had been acquitted of sexual molestation not on account of lack of evidence but because his actions did not constitute sexual molestation at the time. The provision on sexual molestation has since been amended in Sweden (in 2005), which to court highlighted as evidence that the previous version of the sexual molestation provision had not protected the applicant from the act in question.
AD 2011 nr 2, Sweden, Supreme Court, 2011.
"An employer may not discriminate against a person who, with respect to the employer, 1. is an employee, 2. is enquiring about or applying for work, 3. is applying for or carrying out a traineeship, or 4. is available to perform work or is performing work as temporary or borrowed labour. (…)" Chapter 2 Section 1 of the Swedish Discrimination Act.] A woman had applied for employment at the farm where she was doing an internship. During the internship the woman had had a miscarriage, which she told the farmer about. She was later denied employment. The farmer claimed that he denied her employment due to her insufficient capacity for work. However, the Swedish Labour Court (Sw: Arbetsdomstolen) found that the decision to deny the woman employment did not completely lack connection with a possible future pregnancy. Hence, Swedish Labour Court ruled that the denied employment constituted a violation of the Discrimination Act and granted the woman compensation for the damage suffered from the discrimination.
B 990-11, Sweden, Supreme Court, 2011.
A man who possessed 39 drawn pornographic images in manga style was acquitted from a charge of possession of child pornography on the grounds that holding this possession as illegal would unreasonably limit freedom of expression. Swedish child pornography laws outlaw actual photographic material as well as drawn images. The purpose of this law is to protect children from offensive materials, to avoid anyone using child pornography to snare children into sexual situations, and to protect their likeness being shared in pornographic materials. The court argued, however, that because a conviction would mean a restraint in the defendant’s freedom of expression, the court must present a serious reason for why pornographic manga-styled cartoon images actually have the potential to harm a child in any of these ways. Because the images were not made in any child’s likeness and because manga is an expression of Japanese culture, the court ruled that the restraint on the defendant’s freedom of expression would be too great if he were convicted and the images were held to constitute child pornography.
N. v. Sweden, Sweden, European Court of Human Rights, 2010.
N and her husband X applied for asylum after arriving in Sweden, claiming persecution in Afghanistan because of X’s political position. The asylum application being rejected, N appealed claiming that, as she had in the meantime separated from her husband, she would risk social exclusion and possibly death if she returned to Afghanistan. Her appeal was also rejected. She applied for a residence permit three times, as well as for divorce from X., submitting that she was at an ever-heightened risk of persecution in Afghanistan, as she had started an extra-marital relationship with a man in Sweden which was punishable by long imprisonment or even death in her country of origin. All her applications were rejected. While being aware of reports of serious human rights violations in Afghanistan, the Court did not find that they showed, on their own, that there would be a violation of the Convention if N were to return to that country. Examining N.'s personal situation, however, the Court noted that women were at a particularly heightened risk of ill-treatment in Afghanistan if they were perceived as not conforming to the gender roles ascribed to them by society, tradition or the legal system there. The mere fact that N had lived in Sweden might well be perceived as her having crossed the line of acceptable behavior. The fact that she wanted to divorce her husband, and in any event did not want to live with him any longer, might result in serious life-threatening repercussions upon her return to Afghanistan. Among other things, the Court noted that a recent law, the Shiite Personal Status Act of April 2009, required women to obey their husbands' sexual demands and not to leave home without permission. Reports had further shown that around 80 % of Afghani women were affected by domestic violence, acts which the authorities saw as legitimate and therefore did not prosecute. Unaccompanied women, or women without a male "tutor", faced continuous severe limitations to having a personal or professional life, and were doomed to social exclusion. They also often plainly lacked the means for survival if not protected by a male relative. Consequently, the Court found that if N were deported to Afghanistan, Sweden would be in violation of Article 3.
RH 2010:34, Sweden, Svea Court of Appeal, 2010.
["A person who, in other cases than those referred to in Section 1, uses unlawful coercion or deceit, exploits another person's vulnerable situation or by some other such improper means recruits, transports, harbours, receives or takes any other such action with a person and thereby takes control over this person with the intent that this person shall be exploited for sexual purposes, removal of organs, military service or exploited in some other way that places that person in distress, shall be sentenced for trafficking in human beings to imprisonment, for at least two years and at most ten years. (…) Chapter 4 Section 1 a of the Swedish Penal Code.] Two persons, 21 and 22 years old respectively brought two 16-year-old boys from Romania to Sweden, where they had jointly stolen goods from shops. The two persons were found guilty of human trafficking because they had taken control of the minors in order to exploit their plight and to encourage them to take part in crimes in a situation that constituted a state of distress for the minors. However, the court considered the crime to be mitigated by the fact that the minors were not exposed to any direct coercion nor had they been deprived of their freedom. [Decision on file with Avon Global Center]
NJA 2008 s. 1096 I and II,, Sweden, Supreme Court, 2008.
["A person who, by violence or threat involving or appearing to the threatened person as imminent danger, forces the latter to have sexual intercourse or to engage in a comparable sexual act, shall be sentenced for rape (…)" Chapter 6, Section 1 of the Swedish Penal Code.] The Supreme Court ruled on the distinction between a sexual act and sexual intercourse. Although the victim in this case was a child, the decision still gives some guidance with respect to crimes against adults. A man took an eight-year-old girl with him to a backyard, where he kept a firm hold of the girl and pulled her pants and panties down against her will. For a moment, the man pressed his penis in between the girl's buttocks, which inflicted certain pain to the girl. However, since the offense was brief and since the man had neither touched the girl's genitals nor anus, the act was not considered comparable with sexual intercourse. The man was convicted of sexual abuse of a child. (The distinction was important at the time but the legal definitions have since changed and even without sexual intercourse or penetration it would now be possible to convict someone for rape of a child.) [Decision on file with Avon Global Center]
NJA 2008 s. 482, Sweden, Supreme Court, 2008.
["A person who, by violence or threat involving or appearing to the threatened person as imminent danger, forces the latter to have sexual intercourse or to engage in a comparable sexual act, shall be sentenced for rape (…)" Chapter 6, Section 1 of the Swedish Penal Code.] The Supreme Court found that the accused had committed rape when the man put his fingers into a sleeping woman's vagina. When the woman woke up she indicated that she was not interested in sexual intercourse with the man, whereupon he stopped his behavior. However, as the woman was asleep and thus in a helpless state when the man carried out the sexual act, he had unduly exploited her helplessness. The Supreme Court stated that the sexual offence was of such serious nature that it qualified as rape. Acts such as forced sexual intercourse or other forms of forced penetration typically constitute the most offensive sexual assaults. [Decision on file with Avon Global Center]
NJA 2008 s. 482 II, Sweden, Supreme Court, 2008.
["A person who, otherwise than as provided in Section 1 first paragraph, induces another person by unlawful coercion to undertake or endure a sexual act, shall be sentenced for sexual coercion to imprisonment for at most two years. / This shall also apply to a person who carries out a sexual act other than provided for in Section 1 second paragraph with a person, under the conditions otherwise specified in that paragraph./ If a crime provided for in the first or second paragraph is considered gross, a sentence to imprisonment for at least six months and at most six years shall be imposed for gross sexual coercion. In assessing whether the crime is gross, special consideration shall be given to whether more than one person assaulted the victim or in any other way took part in the assault or whether the perpetrator otherwise exhibited particular ruthlessness or brutality. (…)" Chapter 6, Section 1 of the Swedish Penal Code.] [A person who, by violence or threat involving or appearing to the threatened person as imminent danger, forces the latter to have sexual intercourse or to engage in a comparable sexual act, shall be sentenced for rape to imprisonment for at least two and at most six years. (…)" Chapter 6, Section 2 of the Swedish Penal Code.] In this case, the Supreme Court held that sexual coercion had occurred when a man masturbated to another person that was asleep. The victim was at the time 17 years old and had provisionary employment at the perpetrator's company. The incident took place in a hotel room during a trip arranged by the company. The Supreme Court found that the victim was, at the time of the crime, in such helpless condition as referred to in Chapter 6, Section 1 Swedish Penal Code but that the sexual act was not comparable to sexual intercourse. The circumstance that the victim was 17 years old and worked for the perpetrator was not considered to make the offense gross. The Supreme Court therefore found the accused guilty of sexual coercion. [Decision on file with Avon Global Center]
Case nr B 4231-06, Sweden, Court of Appeals, 2007.
["A person who commits criminal acts as defined in Chapters 3, 4 or 6 against another person having, or have had, a close relationship to the perpetrator shall, if the acts form a part of an element in a repeated violation of that person's integrity and suited to severely damage that person's self-confidence, be sentenced for gross violation of integrity to imprisonment for at least six months and at most six years."] A woman was sentenced to three years imprisonment for having commissioned the genital mutilation of her daughter, and damages in the amount of 450 000 SEK were awarded to the daughter. The mother claimed that the "surgery" was carried out without her knowledge on the day of her daughter's birth. It was established that the mother's testimony was false and that the genital mutilation had been performed during a trip to Somalia in 2001. The mother was also sentenced for gross violation of integrity since she had regularly assaulted and beat the plaintiff. The daughter had also frequently been forced to undergo examination by the mother of the genital area, often in conjunction with men paying visits to the family. The court found that the examination had violated the plaintiff and was intended to violate her privacy. [Decision on file with Avon Global Center]
Collins and Akaziebie v. Sweden, Sweden, European Court of Human Rights, 2007.
The first applicant, the mother, filed for asylum upon arriving in Sweden, claiming she had fled Nigeria while pregnant with her daughter, the second applicant, in an attempt to flee the female-genital mutilation ("FGM") that would have been performed on her during childbirth if she stayed in Nigeria. The Swedish Migration Board rejected the asylum application, explaining that FGM was not grounds for asylum, and that FGM was outlawed by Nigerian law so it was unlikely the first applicant would be submitted to the procedure upon return to Nigeria. The Swedish Aliens Appeal Board rejected the applicant's appeal, rejecting her argument that FGM was a deep-rooted Nigerian tradition, carried out despite modern law. Following several more attempts within Sweden to be granted asylum, the applicants filed a complaint with the ECHR, alleging that if they were returned to Nigeria, they would face a high likelihood of being submitted to FGM. The argued this would violate Article 3 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The ECHR rejected the complaint, ruling that the applicants had failed to "substantiate that they would face a real and concrete risk of being subjected to female genital mutilation upon returning to Nigeria.
RH 2007:7, Sweden, Court of Appeals for Western Sweden, 2007.
["Anyone committing a breach of Section 1 is to be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than four years. If the offense has caused danger to life, serious illness, or has involved conduct of an unusually ruthless character in some other respect, it shall be regarded as grave. For a grave offence the sentence is a term of imprisonment of not less than two years and not more than ten years.] [A sentence for liability pursuant to Chapter 23 of the Penal Code is to be passed on anyone found guilty of attempting, preparing or conspiring to commit the above offence, or of failing to report it."]
A girl who had been raised in Sweden and who knew nothing about genital cutting before going to Somalia, was while in Somalia, completely at the mercy of her father as her only caregiver. The girl had on two occasions tried to escape from Somalia in order to rejoin her mother in Sweden. After an initial failed attempt, the girl succeeded in fleeing. It was established that the operation had been performed after the first escape attempt, and it appeared to have been done both as a reprisal for the girl's attempt to escape and as a way to get her to conform to the will of the father, together with the fact that she was soon to be married off. At the time of the surgery, the girl was eleven to twelve years old. The court considered that the fact that the father took advantage of the girl's helplessness and the fact that it was particularly difficult for the girl to defend herself against the crime was an aggravating factor in sentencing. During the surgery, the girl was forced to lie down on her bed while her father and another man held her legs apart. Using a razor blade, a third man cut the girl's genitals. The Court of Appeal found that the act constituted serious assault and had been very abusive to the girl. The surgery was carried out without anesthesia, and not by a doctor or in a hospital but in the home of the father. Apart from the fact that the surgery was performed in a place where the girl should normally expect to be safe, the crime also exposed the girl to the risk of acute medical complications, and the risk of long-term psychological and physical harm was also evident. The physical damage was considered to be irreparable and may lead to future problems related to pregnancy and childbirth. Of importance is also the statement by the girl that she was terrified during the surgery. In an overall assessment, the Court of Appeal established the compensation for damages and additional compensation for pain and suffering and for travel expenses at a total of SEK 296,045. The father was also sentenced to two years imprisonment.
C.T. v. Sweden , Sweden, CAT Committee, 2006.
C. T., a Hutu citizen of Rwanda and a member of the PDR-Ubuyanja party, was arrested for her political affiliations and incarcerated in a Kigali prison. While incarcerated, she was repeatedly raped, under the threat of execution if she did not comply, and become pregnant. C. T. escaped to Sweden and requested asylum for herself and her son; her request was denied by the Migration Board for lack of credibility. She filed a complaint with the Committee Against Torture, arguing that her forced return to Rwanda would subject her to further human rights violations and possibly result in her death. The Committee Against Torture held that C. T.’s removal to Rwanda would constitute a violation of article 3 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), which obligates state parties not to expel or return a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture. Addressing the issue of C. T.’s credibility, the Committee invoked its prior holding that victims of torture cannot be held to a standard of complete accuracy when recalling the facts of their experience, and held that domestic authorities erred in ignoring medical reports appended to the complaint which substantiated C. T.’s claims of rape and torture. The Committee concluded that given the continued state of ethnic tension in Rwanda and C. T.’s past victimization, return to Rwanda presented a foreseeable, real, and personal risk of danger for C. T. and her son.
NJA 2003 s. 144, Sweden, Supreme Court, 2003.
"A person who commits criminal acts as defined in Chapters 3, 4 or 6 against another person having, or have had, a close relationship to the perpetrator shall, if the acts form a part of an element in a repeated violation of that person's integrity and suited to severely damage that person's self-confidence, be sentenced for gross violation of integrity (…)." Chapter 4, Section 4 a, paragraph 2 of the Swedish Penal Code.
The Supreme Court ruled that even though several assaults separately do not qualify as criminal acts as defined in Chapter 3, 4, or 6 of the Swedish Penal Code they may, if assessed together, be seen as seriously damaging to a person's self-confidence and the perpetrator may be sentenced for gross violation of a woman's integrity. In this case, a man had thrown a glass of juice in the face of the woman he lived with while she held their youngest child in her lap. He also had assaulted her several times by, inter alia, kicking her legs and buttocks, taking firm grips of her neck, punching her neck and shoulder, stepping on her feet, knocking her over on the floor, taking her in a stranglehold, and threatening to kill her. Although only one of the assaults could be defined as a criminal act in accordance with Chapters 3, 4 or 6 of the Swedish Penal Code, the Supreme Court stated that it is necessary to take into account a person's entire situation when assessing gross violation of a woman's integrity. The Supreme Court further ruled that it is not necessary to establish that a person's self-confidence is actually injured but only that the acts are such as would typically lead to serious injury to a person's self-confidence.
NJA 2004 s. 97, Sweden, Supreme Court, 2003.
"A person who commits criminal acts as defined in Chapters 3, 4 or 6 against another person having, or have had, a close relationship to the perpetrator shall, if the acts form a part of an element in a repeated violation of that person's integrity and suited to severely damage that person's self-confidence, be sentenced for gross violation of integrity to imprisonment for at least six months and at most six years. (…)" Chapter 4, Section 4 a, paragraph 2 of the Swedish Penal Code.] The Supreme Court ruled that a couple had a close relationship, in the sense required by law, even though they both had access to their own separate accommodations. The court found that the couple was to be considered to be in an established relationship as they, for a longer period (a year and a half), spent time with each other in a way comparable to what may be the case in a cohabiting relationship or between spouses. It was further found that the perpetrator had battered the woman he had a relationship with at six occasions and that he had also been guilty of assault. The court ruled that the actions had violated the woman's integrity and suited to severely damage the woman's self-confidence. The perpetrator was sentenced for gross violation of integrity to eight months imprisonment.
T.A. v. Sweden, Sweden, CAT Committee, 2003.
T.A. and her husband are Bangladeshi citizens and members of the Jatiya party. After T.A. was arrested for participating in a political demonstration and released, the police, accompanied by members of an opposing political party, arrested T.A. and her four-year-old daughter. At the police station, T.A. endured torture including repeated rape until she confessed to the crime of illegal arm trading. She was released after she signed a document stating that she would not take part in any further political activity. T.A. fled to Sweden with her daughter where she applied for refugee status. The Migration Board that received her application did not contest her allegations of rape and torture, but concluded that these acts could not be attributed to the State; rather, they were to be regarded as acts of individual policemen. T.A. appealed to the Alien Appeals Board, submitting medical certificates that supported her account of torture and the traumatic experience it had on her daughter. The Alien Appeals Board upheld the Migration Board’s decision and stated that because of a political change in Bangladesh since the incident, T.A. would not be subjected to further torture if she returned. In her complaint to the Committee, T.A. argued that given the medical evidence of the case, a deportation order would in itself constitute a violation of article 16 of the Convention under which State parties are obliged to prevent cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment conducted by the State or its public officials. The Committee considered T.A.’s complaint in regards to a State’s obligation under article 3 not to expel or to return a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she would be in danger of torture. The Committee noted that T.A. belonged to a political party in opposition to the current ruling party in Bangladesh, and that torture of political opponents was frequently practiced by state agents. Taking into account the Bangladeshi police’s ongoing search for T.A. because of her political affiliations, the Committee concluded that T.A. would be exposed to a serious risk of torture if she returned to Bangladesh, and therefore her forced deportation would violate article 3 of the Convention.
A.S. v. Sweden, Sweden, CAT Committee, 2000.
A.S.’s husband was mysteriously killed during training with the Iranian Air Force, and the Iranian government subsequently declared him to be a martyr. As the widow of a martyr, A.S. was required to submit to the rigid rules of the Bonyad-e Shahid Islamic society, a foundation which supported and supervised the families of martyrs. In accordance with the aims of Bonyad-e Shahid, a high-ranking leader forced A.S. to be his wife in a sigheh marriage, a temporary marital arrangement that requires no registration or witnesses and is used as a measure to prevent women from being sexually active outside of marriage. A.S. was forced to live with her sigheh husband and perform sexual services for him at his command. A.S. later fell in love with a Christian man, and when the two were discovered together by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, A.S. was taken into custody at the Ozghol police station in Tehran. A.S. was severely beaten by her sigheh husband for five to six hours. A.S. managed to obtain a visa to visit her sister in Sweden, and upon her arrival she applied for asylum; her application was rejected by both the Swedish Immigration Board and the Aliens Appeal Board. Since her departure from Iran, A.S. had been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. In her complaint to the Committee, A.S. alleged that her forced return to Iran would constitute a violation of Sweden’s article 3 obligation not to expel or return a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture. The Committee referred to the report of the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Iran which confirmed that Iran had recently sentenced several married women to death by stoning for adultery. Considering that A.S.’s account of events was consistent with the Committee’s knowledge about present human rights violations in Iran, the Committee held that in accordance with article 3 of the Convention, Sweden should refrain from forcing A.S. to return to Iran.
AD 1996 nr 79, Sweden, Supreme Court, 1996.
"An employer may not discriminate against a person who, with respect to the employer,1. is an employee; 2. is enquiring about or applying for work; 3. is applying for or carrying out a traineeship; 4. is available to perform work or is performing work as temporary or borrowed labour. (…)"]. In AD 1996 nr 79 the Swedish Labour Court (Sw: Arbetsdomstolen) ruled that a municipality was applying a salary development system that constituted gender-based discrimination. A female head of department had received, for four time periods, a lower wage than a male head of department who was employed by the same municipality. The municipality argued that the differences in salary were justified by differences in the two jobs. However, the court rejected this claim, finding that during the last two time periods, the employees' jobs had in effect been equivalent.
Mrs. Pauline Muzonzo Paku Kisoki v. Sweden, Sweden, CAT Committee, 1996.
Pauline Muzonzo Paku Kisoki was raped in her home in front of her children by security forces after refusing to allow the government party MPR to host a party rally at her restaurant in Kisanto. She was detained and taken to Makal prison in Kinshasa where the guards forced the women prisoners to dance before they beat and raped them. Kisoki stated that she was raped more than ten times while in prison. After she managed to escape when her sister bribed a prison supervisor, Kisoki fled to Sweden where she immediately requested asylum. The Swedish Board of Immigration denied her request, concluding that the political climate in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) had improved, and Kisoki would not suffer persecution or harassment for her past activities. After the Alien Appeals Board confirmed the decision, Kisoki submitted a new request which referred to the report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of rights violations in Zaire. Her application was denied again on the ground that Kisoki could not introduce new evidence. Her complaint to the Committee accused Swedish authorities of basing their decision on a false image of Zaire. Kisoki cited the Commission on Human Rights report to demonstrate that female prisoners are often raped, and a background paper from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees the show that the Zairian Security Police expose return asylum seekers to long sessions of interrogation. The Committee held that Kisoki’s history of working with the opposition party and of detention and torture provide substantial grounds to believe she would face further persecution and torture if she returned to Zaire. Thus, expulsion or return would be violation of article 3 which obligates State parties not to expel or return a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
RH 1991:120, Sweden, The Court of Appeal for Western Sweden, 1991.
["A person who, otherwise than as provided in Section 1 first paragraph (Author's note: rape), induces another person by unlawful coercion to undertake or endure a sexual act, shall be sentenced for sexual coercion to imprisonment for at most two years. (…)" Chapter 6, Section 2 of the Swedish Penal Code.] A woman was repeatedly forced, without the use of physical violence, to have sexual intercourse with her husband. In one instance the man tried to pull off the woman's pants after she had said that she did not want to have sexual intercourse with him. He then threatened her by saying he would forcibly open up her legs if she continued to refuse and twisted the woman's ankle, causing her substantial pain, as he attempted to keep her on the bed. The woman managed to run away from the bedroom and hold on to the door handle, thus making her husband unable to reach her. Instead, the man masturbated in front of the woman and then calmed down. The District Court found that in order to achieve sexual intercourse with the woman, the husband had used violence and threats. The woman had suffered pain, an injury to one foot, and probably also some bruising to her legs. The District Court found that the violence and the threats used could not be considered graver than those comparable to the coercion requirements in Chapter 6, Section 2 of the Swedish Penal Code and sentenced the husband to imprisonment for attempted sexual coercion. The Court of Appeal for Western Sweden upheld the District Court's ruling.