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Sweden needs to do more to crack down on hate crimes: report

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Sweden needs to do more to crack down on hate crimes: report
Swedish neo-Nazi group Svenska Motståndsrörelsen rally in central Stockholm. File photo: Fredrik Persson/TT
13:30 CET+01:00
Sweden has made strides in combatting xenophobia and segregation, but needs to do more to crack down on hate crimes, the Council of Europe's top human rights body says.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) on Tuesday released its fifth report on Sweden where it analyzed the country's integration policies and its efforts to combat issues like racism, xenophobia and homophobia.

In the five years since the ECRI issued its last report on the tiny Nordic nation, it said Sweden had done a good job when it came to setting up government programmes aimed at combatting racism and xenophobia and integrating its big migrant population on the labour and housing market.

However, it noted the country still has some way to go when it comes to clamping down on hate crimes. The main groups targeted are migrants, Muslims, black persons and Roma, it said.

"Some legal deficiencies remain," it stated, pointing for example to the lack of legislation covering "the public denial, trivialization, justification or condoning of genocide and crimes against humanity".

"Anti-Semitic hatred remains a problem, and the clearance rate of hate crimes remains low."

IN DEPTH: Breaking down Sweden's anti-Semitism problem

The body also noted that Sweden has still not criminalized neither the creation nor support of groups promoting racism.

The ECRI said the Swedish authorities "should take further action on awareness-raising and prevention modules covering anti-Semitism and homo/transphobia in the introduction courses for newly-arrived migrants in a way that avoids stigmatization of participants".

Although it applauded Sweden's state efforts to integrate migrants in the labour and housing market, it said there is still room for improvement.

"In spite of the authorities' considerable efforts in the area of the Introduction Programme for refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, the labour market participation rate following completion stood only at 27 percent in 2016, and was even lower for women at just 15 percent," it said.

It also said authorities should include concrete, targeted and measurable actions to combat ethnic residential segregation.

Finally, it said that Sweden's ombudsman institutions should have "adequate powers and expertise to investigate discrimination by all public authorities, including law enforcement agencies".

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