UN torture committee criticizes Sweden

The United Nations Committee against Torture has criticized Sweden for taking too long to begin investigating allegations of torture in conjunction with a peacekeeping mission in Congo.

The Swedish military waited four years before looking into allegations that Swedish troops had remained passive while a Congolese militia member was tortured by French troops.

The Armed Forces should have launched an immediate probe into the incident, said the committee in a new report.

The Committee against Torture further demanded that Swedish soldiers be issued with clear instructions regarding how best to report suspicions of mistreatment.

The committee also came down hard on the fact that the incident was investigated by the Armed Forces rather than an independent body.

Not for the first time, Sweden also received a rap on the knuckles for the deportation in late 2001 of two Egyptian men suspected of terrorist offences.

The men, Mohammed Alzery and Ahmed Agiza, were expelled from the country following a deportation order by the Swedish government. They were handed over to US agents at Bromma Airport and were flown to Egypt on an American government plane.

The committee has called for Sweden to launch a full investigation so that the people responsible for the order can be held accountable.

Conditions in Swedish remand centres were also criticized. The committee noted, for example, that detainees are often kept isolated with no way of remaining in contact with the outside world.