Former DN Editor: ‘This ruling damages freedom of expression’

Svante Nycander, former editor of Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, gives his view after local politician Dahn Pettersson is fined for hate speech. Pettersson claimed in a motion that 95 percent of all heroin that comes into Sweden comes via Kosovo.

“The ruling in Malmö District Court is damaging to freedom of expression. Many will take it as proof that the authorities are afraid of uncomfortable truths, and that lacking reasoned counter-arguments they punish those who speak plainly.

“When a member of the council asked the police whether Dahn Pettersson’s claims were true, he was told simply that the claims constituted Agitation Against a National or Ethnic Group. The law is becoming a hindrance for providing information about actual situations. Questions which have their basis in disparagement of a particular group cannot be answered.

“This is the result of changes at various points in the clause on Agitation against a National or Ethnic Group. The ban has developed in such a way that it inhibits not only prejudiced statements, but also nearly all discussion of sensitive issues that interest a large proportion of the public. Such a law thwarts its own purpose.

“Dahn Pettersson’s motion, and both the opinions and the claims contained within it, should be tackled in open political discussion – not with prosecution and punishment.”

Translation: James Savage