Amnesty: ‘Sweden lax on war criminals’

Sweden has been strongly criticized by Amnesty International in a new report released on Tuesday. Amnesty has called on Sweden to end impunity from crimes such as torture, crimes against humanity and extrajudicial executions.

Sweden’s clear international profile in the fight against impunity from justice is not matched at home, Amnesty argues in a new report released on Tuesday.

“It is high time that Sweden, which is a leading country in fighting impunity for serious humanitarian rights breaches internationally, now amends Swedish law to adapt to the demands framed in international law,” writes Amnesty Sweden’s director-general Lisa Bergh on the organization’s homepage.

Amnesty wants Sweden to extend provisions under the international legal principle of universal jurisdiction, which permits states to charge and prosecute for serious crimes regardless of where they were committed.

Sweden’s universal jurisdiction legislation dates back to a 1923 Penal Code. Current legislation allows courts to exercise criminal jurisdiction over genocide and war crimes.

Amnesty wants legislation to be extended to cover: “crimes against humanity, torture, extrajudicial executions or enforced disappearances”.

The report cites “a reliable report” to claim that “up to 1,500 war criminals freely roam the streets of Sweden.”

Amnesty recognizes however that that the Swedish police have taken steps to work against Sweden becoming a safe haven for war criminals by founding a special war crimes unit, in March 2008.

But their work is hindered by the “serious gaps” in current legislation, the group argues.

Lisa Bergh argues that the Swedish government can do more and points out that more than six years after a proposal was presented in 2002 for a law implementing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute), no proposal has yet been presented by the government to the Parliament.

“I believe that the issue has simply been given a lower priority. It is thought that demands have been met in certain areas, but we do not agree. It is not a question of party divisions and there already exists a legislative proposal for review,” Bergh says.

“If this is not adopted then Sweden risks becoming a haven for war criminals”, Amnesty International warns.

The principle of universal jurisdiction is a controversial principle in international law. Amnesty International has long been one of its proponents arguing that certain crimes are so serious that states have a logical and moral duty to prosecute.

Opponents, such as former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, argue that universal jurisdiction is a breach on each state’s sovereignty.

Following the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague in 2002 the perceived need to create universal jurisdiction laws has declined. Although the ICC is not permitted to try crimes committed before 2002.


12,000 weapons were handed in during Swedish amnesty: police

A weapons amnesty has resulted in 12,000 weapons being voluntarily given up, according to Swedish police figures.

12,000 weapons were handed in during Swedish amnesty: police
File photo: Andreas Hillergren/TT

Hunting weapons constituted the largest proportion of the weapons given in to police during the amnesty period between February 1st and April 30th, while over 3,500 handguns were also submitted, according to the police website.

28 tonnes of ammunition were also handed in, police further confirmed.

A lower figure of 9,000 weapons had been reported around the time the amnesty ended in April.

But the 12,000 figure was confirmed via the statement on the police website, with project leader Joakim Norenhag declaring himself “satisfied” with the outcome.

“To have received so many weapons we were not previously aware of is naturally positive. But we should be very careful about saying this will have any impact on the shootings we have seen around the country,” Norenhag told TT.

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The South (Syd) police region topped the list of areas with the highest number of relinquished weapons. Around 15,000 weapons were collected during a similar amnesty in 2013.

This year’s amnesty, which was authorised by parliament, ran for three months from February 1st to April 30th. The amnesty allowed people in possession of unregistered or illegal weapons and ammunition to hand them in to police without facing legal pursuit.

Weapons handed in under the terms of the amnesty had to be given up voluntarily.

Persons leaving weapons with police were able to do so anonymously, while police did not have the right to carry out inquiries related to any of the submitted weapons.

In cases where the weapons have registered owners, the owners are informed by police, after which they have a month to collect their property.

Unclaimed and other weapons will eventually be scrapped or handed over to museums should they be rare or of interest.

The amnesty was valid for weapons and ammunition but not for explosives or explosive materials.

READ ALSO: Swedish police hope amnesty can get more than 10,000 weapons off the streets