UN slams Sweden over increasing hate crimes

Sweden faced sharp criticism for the way it is tackling discrimination and violence against minority groups, at a key UN meeting in Geneva on Monday.

UN slams Sweden over increasing hate crimes
The United Nations General Assembly on January 22, 2015. Photo: TT
As part of the second UN review of human rights practices in Sweden, the Nordic nation's recent experiences linked to Islamaphobia, anti-semitism and prejudice against Roma migrants were highlighted. The review also noted an increase in sexual violence against women.
Annika Söder, State Secretary at Sweden's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Sweden's representative in Geneva in connection with the hearing of the United Nations Human Rights Council, told the TT newswire that she welcomed the "feedback and criticism" from other UN member states.
She insisted that the Swedish government had launched a number of initiatives against hate crimes and she said felt the country was now "on the right track".
But Katarina Lindahl, chairman of UN Women in Sweden – a national group campaigning for gender equality and the empowerment of women – said she found the UN's findings "disturbing" and said she hoped they would serve as a wake up call to Sweden.
"Sweden's self-image of a democratic, humane and nation that stands together can be blinding and prevents us from having a proper discussion about racial discrimination," she told The Local. 
"We tend to think that these problems are foreign and not real to us". 
Several UN member states are calling for a new national independent institution to monitor human rights in Sweden more closely.
Annika Söder told TT that the government was looking into several proposals around this idea, but said that no decision had yet been taken.
There has been an increased focus on hate crimes in Sweden since attacks on several mosques at the turn of the new year.
Last week it emerged that police in Skåne in southern Sweden had recorded 137 anti-semitic hate crimes in the past two years.