Sweden moves to tighten anti-terror laws: five key things to know

The Swedish government wants to tighten the laws applying to people who take part in or assist terrorist organizations. Here are five things to know about the law proposal and what it means.

Sweden moves to tighten anti-terror laws: five key things to know
Justice Minister Morgan Johansson pictured speaking in parliament. File photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

What is the proposed new law?

The government has proposed introducing two new laws: one making it illegal to be participate in a terrorist organization, and one making it illegal to cooperate with these organizations.

The laws would apply to people who recruit new members to the organization, something which is currently only punishable by law if these people were recruited specifically to carry out terrorist crimes. They would also make it a criminal offence to 'assist' terrorist organizations through giving them use of premises, arranging transport, providing them with equipment, or raising money for these groups, even if the person doing so is not a member.

“We will discover more cases of those who commit these crimes. It will be easier to map the networks themselves,” Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said on Thursday, after the law was referred to Sweden's legislative council for consideration.

The law would not however be applied retroactively, meaning that people who have previously joined terror groups would not be prosecuted. 

FOR MEMBERS: Sweden's new laws to look out for in 2019

How does it compare with existing laws?

Several existing laws deal with terror-related crimes in Sweden; for example, it's illegal to openly call for terrorist crimes, to travel internationally for terrorist purposes and to train or recruit people to carry out such crimes. But the idea is that new law would make it possible to prosecute people even without evidence of this active involvement.

Following the deadly truck attack in central Stockholm in 2017, Sweden's government and opposition made an agreement on measures to tackle terrorism. This included tightening-up of laws, and a government-ordered inquiry suggested that it should be made illegal to be part of a terrorist organization. 


What would the punishment be?

Under the proposal, the punishment would be up to six years' imprisonment for crimes classified as 'aggravated', and up to two years in other cases. Sweden's justice minister has said that involvement in Isis or al-Qaida, for example, would count as an aggravated crime.

These numbers are provisional, and may be changed before the law comes into force.

How do Sweden's laws compare to other countries?

Several EU countries have introduced laws similar to the Swedish proposal. In Belgium, more than 350 people have been sentenced for crimes linked to terrorism in recent years, and the most common crime is taking part in a terrorist group's business.

What are the next steps?

The proposal was officially presented on Thursday afternoon and submitted for review by the Council of Legislation. This is the body that checks draft bills before they can be submitted to parliament. Its decisions are advisory and non-binding, but the government often clarifies legislation based on the council's suggestions.

If the legislative council doesn't raise any issues with the bill's legal viability, Löfven has said the plan is to put the proposal to parliament relatively soon, with the aim of having the law come into force on August 1st. 

READ ALSO: Five key points from the Stockholm terror verdict

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Floral tributes to the victims of the 2017 Stockholm terror attack. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

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Sweden’s right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Sunday announced that they had agreed to keep the current Speaker, Andreas Norlén in place, when the role is put to a vote as parliament opens on Monday.

Sweden's right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The parties won a three-seat majority over the bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats in Sweden’s general election on September 11th, and are currently in the middle of negotiating how they will form Sweden’s next government. 

Sweden’s parliament meets at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers are the first item on the agenda, after which the parties each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees. 

READ ALSO: What happens next as parliament reopens? 

In a joint press release announcing the decision, the parties also agreed that the Sweden Democrats would be given eight of the 16 chairmanships the bloc will have of parliamentary committees in the next parliament, and that MPs for all four parties would back Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ Second Deputy Leader, as the second deputy Speaker, serving under Norlén. 

In the press release, the parties said that Norlén had over the last four years shown that he has “the necessary personal qualities and qualifications which the role requires”. 

The decision to retain Norlén, who presided over the 134 days of talks and parliamentary votes that led to the January Agreement in 2019, was praised by Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson. 

Norlén, she said in a statement, had “managed his responsibilities well over the past four years and been a good representative of Sweden’s Riksdag.” 

The decision to appoint Kronlid was opposed by both the Left Party and the Green Party, who said that she supported tightening abortion legislation, and did not believe in evolution.

The Green Party’s joint leader Märta Stenevi said that her party “did not have confidence in Julia Kronlid”, pointing to an interview she gave in 2014 when she said she did not believe that humans were descended from apes.

The party has proposed its finance spokesperson Janine Alm Ericson as a rival candidate. 

The Left Party said it was planning to vote for the Centre Party’s candidate for the post second deputy Speaker in the hope of blocking Kronlid as a candidate.