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Sweden slammed for UN rights failures

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08:24 CET+01:00
Sweden has come in for harsh criticism from the country's United Nations association and 15 other organizations for failing to abide by a number of UN conventions.

“There’s an image that Sweden is far ahead of others when it comes to human rights. That’s true is some areas. But if you scratch the surface things look different,” Sweden’s UN association spokesperson Pekka Johansson told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

The government was first called to an investigation by the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva back in May.

At the time, Sweden was criticized for an increasing number of hate crimes which seldom resulted in criminal charges. Of 155 attacks against ethnic minorities in 2007, only five cases were eventually brought to trial.

In addition, more hate crimes are Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, and homophobic, with an increasing amount of racist propaganda appearing on the internet and in Sweden’s schools.

As a remedy, Sweden ought to implement a ban on racist organizations, according to a report submitted to the Human Rights Council on Monday by Sweden's UN association and several other human rights organizations.

Sweden is also criticized for failing to provide adequate healthcare and education to immigrants, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants, and for workplace and public transit discrimination against people with physical disabilities.

The report also takes issue with Sweden’s commitment to gender equality and women’s rights, pointing out that sexually-related violence is on the rise, as are cases of workplace discrimination against women. Women with full time jobs were also found to earn about 20 percent less than men who have equivalent jobs.

Other human rights failings, according to the report, include the ongoing discrimination of the Roma and Sami minorities in Sweden.

“This is serious criticism. Especially striking is the increase in hate crimes and violence against women. Sweden has been criticized before and failed to act. Sweden ought to serve as a good example and we hope that our recommendations can contribute to an improvement,” Linda Nordin Thorslund, the interim secretary general of Sweden’s UN association, told the newspaper.

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