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CRIME

Sweden scraps controversial indefinite detentions for crime suspects

Indefinite detentions are coming to an end this summer after the Swedish parliament voted for time-limited detentions.

Sweden scraps controversial indefinite detentions for crime suspects
File photo of a remand cell in Östersund, Sweden. Photo: Per Danielsson/TT

Under the new rules young people between the ages of 15 and 18 should normally not be detained for more than three months while waiting for formal charges to be pressed in court. The time limit for adults will be nine months.

It will be possible to detain a suspect for longer if there are exceptional reasons.

There are currently no time limits, but strong reasons are required to detain a young person.

The bill was put forward by the centre-left government last year in order to meet the criticism that Sweden has received for decades, not least internationally, over its long periods of detention.

The right-wing opposition, including the Moderate party, Christian Democrats and the Sweden Democrats, voted against the introduction of cutoff points, referring to the fact that the Swedish Prosecution Authority was against time limits, with the motivation that this may complicate criminal investigations.

Sweden’s indefinite detations have long been criticised by human rights activists and came back into the international spotlight with the four-week detention of American rapper ASAP Rocky in 2019. The musician was eventually convicted of assault following a brawl in Stockholm, and he and two friends were handed suspended sentences.

Detentions of this kind aren’t that unusual in Sweden, and there’s no equivalent to the bail system that allows suspects to be released against a financial guarantee.

However, to remand a suspect, the court must believe there is “probable cause” to believe the suspect committed a crime that could result in imprisonment of at least one year.

They must also rule that there is a risk of the suspect fleeing, committing further crime, or harming the investigation, in order to keep them in custody. If these criteria are met and the suspect is remanded (häktad), the prosecutor has 14 days to bring the case to trial – but this can under the current rules be extended, in theory indefinitely, if the court approves an extension.

The new rules will come into force on July 1st.

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CRIME

Swedish Green leader: ‘Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity’

The riots that rocked Swedish cities over the Easter holidays were nothing to do with religion or ethnicity, but instead come down to class, the joint leader of Sweden's Green Party has told The Local in an interview.

Swedish Green leader: 'Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity'

Ahead of a visit to the school in Rosengård that was damaged in the rioting, Märta Stenevi said that neither the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan, who provoked the riots by burning copies of the Koran, nor those who rioted, injuring 104 policemen, were ultimately motivated by religion. 

“His demonstration had nothing to do with religion or with Islam. It has everything to do with being a right extremist and trying to to raise a lot of conflict between groups in Sweden,” she said of Paludan’s protests. 

“On the other side, the police have now stated that there were a lot of connections to organised crime and gangs, who see this as an opportunity to raise hell within their communities.”

Riots broke out in the Swedish cities of Malmö, Stockholm, Norrköping, Linköping and Landskrona over the Easter holidays as a result of Paludan’s tour of the cities, which saw him burn multiple copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islam. 

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More than 100 police officers were injured in the riots, sparking debates about hate-crime legislation and about law and order. 

According to Stenevi, the real cause of the disorder is the way inequality has increased in Sweden in recent decades. 

“If you have big chasms between the rich people and poor people in a country, you will also have a social upheaval and social disturbance. This is well-documented all across the world,” she says. 
 
“What we have done for the past three decades in Sweden is to create a wider and wider gap between those who have a lot and those who have nothing.” 

 
The worst way of reacting to the riots, she argues, is that of Sweden’s right-wing parties. 
 
“You cannot do it by punishment, by adding to the sense of outsider status, you have to start working on actually including people, and that happens through old-fashioned things such as education, and a proper minimum income, to lift people out of their poverty, not to keep them there.”

This, she says, is “ridiculous”, when the long-term solution lies in doing what Sweden did to end extreme inequality at the start of the 20th century, when it created the socialist folkhem, or “people’s home”. 

“It’s easy to forget that 100 to 150 years ago, Sweden was a developing country, with a huge class of poor people with no education whatsoever. And we did this huge lift of a whole nation. And we can do this again,” she says. “But it needs resources, it needs political will.” 
 
 
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