According to the report Time for Change: Justice for Rape Survivors in the Nordics, only 236 of the 5,236 rapes reported in Sweden in in 2017 led to a conviction, or just 4.5 percent.
This compares to the 78 convictions for 1,504 reported rapes in Norway in 2016 (5 percent), 94 convictions for 890 reported rapes in Denmark (10 percent), and 209 convictions for 1,245 reported rapes in Finland (16 percent).
Katarina Bergehed, one of the report's lead authors, told The Local that Amnesty had decided to release the report because of the new sexual consent law Sweden's parliament voted in last year.
“This was a necessary and really important step but it is far from enough, and if we leave the judicial system unaddressed then the potential of the new law will be wasted,” she said.
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The report found that Swedish police often waited a long time before carrying out questioning, while DNA analyses could take as long as nine months to deliver, making it hard for prosecutors to push forward cases. This problem had been problem identified years ago, but had yet to be resolved.
“In summary, the picture is that these crimes are not prioritized sufficiently,” Bergehed said. “Investigations are often just put on the shelf, and this hampers the ability to press charges.”
She said that the police often failed to follow their own policies for rape investigations.
“The authorities worked out the best practice many years ago, with very detailed instructions, but their own monitoring shows that in parts of Sweden it's not used fully or even at all.”
In particular, police often waited too long to question identified suspects, meaning investigators could miss out on potentially crucial information.
“Too often they are not heard at the beginning or even heard at all, which is of course a serious flaw,” she said.
Katarina Bergehed is Amnesty's lead researcher on women's rights. Photo: Tova Jertfelt/Amnesty International
Ulf Johansson, chief of the police in Stockholm, told Swedish state broadcaster SR that he welcomed the report's findings. “We need to be self-critical, and as an organization we need to do more,” he said.
Sweden's Home Affairs minister Mikael Damberg, welcomed the criticism.
“This is something which has been developing for a long time, and which has moved gradually in the wrong direction, which is why it is good that Amnesty has come out with this report,” he said. “This is a real priority from the point of view of Sweden's government.”