Convicted rapists among Sweden’s legal guardians

Convicted rapists among Sweden's legal guardians
The rape by her legal guardian is a key plot point in the film The Girl With A Dragoon Tattoo. File: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
Convicted rapists and fraudsters have managed to become legal guardians for people with disabilities in Sweden, a new review showed on Wednesday.

Sveriges Television (SVT) revealed that a review of 2,300 guardians (god man) – who manage the affairs of Swedes who are incapable of doing so themselves – found that 24 had committed serious crimes in the past, including assault, rape, and fraud attempts. 

The review also found that 23 of the surveyed guardians had debts that had brought them to the attention of the Swedish Enforcement Agency (Kronofogden). 

The legal guardianship system clearly states that a person who manages the affairs of, for example, a person with disabilities or who has other problems taking care of their finances or paperwork, should be "experienced, honest and in other ways suitable" for the task.

The Swedish municipalities appoint legal guardians, a system that lawyer Eva von Schéele at the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges kommuner och landsting – SKL) said had its flaws.

At present, a candidate to become legal guardian will have his or her credentials examined by local authorities, but after being appointed all oversight stops. Von Schéele said it was time to put the guardians through an annual check, including whether they appeared in the crime register. 

"The legislation we have today is ancient," she told SVT. 

Sweden's justice minister, Beatrice Ask, said the government was working on stricter rules for oversight and the appointment of guardians. Its lawyers were also looking at how to remove a guardian if the need arose. 

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