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Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture, Sweden, U.N. Doc. A/48/44, paras. 365-386 (1993).



Convention Abbreviation: CAT


Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture


365. The Committee considered, the second periodic report of Sweden (CAT/C/17/Add.9) at its 143rd and 144th meetings, on 22 April 1993 (see CAT/C/SR.143 and 144).

366. The report was introduced by the representative of the State party, who informed the Committee of developments that had taken place in Sweden since the submission of its last report and made reference to new legislative measures. First, a new Aliens Act had come into force on 1 July 1989. Although it had left unchanged the fundamental principles of Swedish refugee and immigrant policy, a new provision had been added prohibiting the sending of an alien to a country where he ran the risk of being subjected to torture. Secondly, the Penal Code had been modified with regard to the offence of misuse of authority, so that, effective from 1 October 1989, such an offence no longer had to cause damage in order to be punishable. Thirdly, the major change to two new Acts, the Act concerning Psychiatric Compulsory Care and the Act concerning Forensic Psychiatric Care, both of which had entered into force on 1 January 1993, was to set a time-limit for compulsory care which was subject to judicial control.

367. The representative also made reference to remarks contained in the report prepared by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture following its visit to Sweden from 5 to 14 May 1991. Those remarks indicated that no allegations of torture or other evidence of torture had been found in Sweden and that, at present, persons deprived of their liberty in Sweden ran little risk of being physically ill-treated.

368. The representative also informed the Committee that a governmental investigation into psychiatric care had recently submitted its proposals for strengthening the Government's support for the rehabilitation of torture victims. The report had recommended the establishment of a special institute against torture and organized violence. In addition, he described new provisions further limiting the possibility of detention of a child under 16 which had come into force under the Aliens Act from 1 January 1993.

369. The members of the Committee expressed appreciation to the representative of the reporting State for the brief but comprehensive information contained in the report and his introduction. They welcomed especially the decision of Sweden to make public the report prepared by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture following its visit to Sweden and the information contained therein which attested to Sweden's full compliance with the provisions of the Convention against Torture. Nevertheless, members of the Committee sought various clarifications as to the implementation of the Convention in Sweden.

370. On issues of a general nature, clarification was requested as to the jurisdiction of the Appeals Court and Supreme Court in the event of an offence having been committed by a judge or another official responsible for the administration of justice.
371. With regard to article 1 of the Convention, it was asked whether Sweden would not reconsider the possibility of introducing into its Penal Code a specific definition of torture as such a step would assist in clarifying the practice and punishment of torture and in the collection of reliable statistical data on the practice of torture.

372. Concerning article 3 of the Convention, clarification was sought as to its implementation with regard to the methods employed by the State party to evaluate the risk of torture in other countries to which a person might be extradited.

373. In connection with article 4 of the Convention, clarification was requested as to the penalties prescribed for acts of torture.

374. Concerning article 11 of the Convention, additional information was sought on the rules governing detention.

375. With regard to articles 12 and 13 of the Convention, clarification was sought on information contained in paragraphs 14 and 87 of the report regarding the procedures available to individuals to initiate private prosecutions and complaints against public officials and the mechanisms available for investigating into complaints against police officers.

376. In respect of article 16 of the Convention, further details were sought of the results of the Government's investigation into psychiatric care.

377. Replying to the various questions raised, the representative of the State party informed the Committee of the relevant provisions of the Code of Judicial Procedure, under which the Court of Appeal had jurisdiction in cases concerning offences by judges of lower courts, while the Supreme Court had jurisdiction to handle offences by judges of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court as well as the Chancellor of Justice or the Chief State Prosecutor.

378. With regard to article 1 of the Convention, the representative informed the Committee of the provisions of Swedish domestic law prohibiting torture and protecting against torture, cruel and other inhuman practices, including the prohibition of the use of corporal punishment against children. In addition, he explained that, in Sweden, no statistics were collated in relation to complaints or sentences against police officers or wardens accused of ill-treating persons deprived of their liberty, although information on such cases could be gleaned from opinions expressed by the Personnel Responsibility Committee of the National Police Board to the courts. Reference was made to such information.

379. In connection with article 3 of the Convention, the representative provided information on the means by which officials making decisions on asylum cases evaluated the risk of torture in other countries to which an alien might be sent, and indicated that officials of the Swedish Immigration Board and the Aliens Board, the decision-making bodies on asylum cases, had a good knowledge of the human rights situation in various countries. They received such information from reports from Sweden's foreign missions, national and international voluntary organizations and international bodies. In addition, the competent officials were trained on a continuing basis and travelled frequently in order to form their own opinions regarding local circumstances.

380. Concerning article 4 of the Convention, the representative clarified that the maximum penalty of six years' imprisonment for gross misuse of office was not the maximum penalty for torture. Acts of torture were more likely to be deemed to be aggravated assault, which carried a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment. Moreover, if an act of torture led to the victim's death, it might be considered as murder, which carried the maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

381. In connection with article 11 of the Convention, the representative provided further information on the rules and regulations governing the detention of aliens. In particular, he made reference to the provisions of the Aliens Act by which an alien aged 16 or over might be detained and the grounds for such detention. He indicated that an alien might not be detained for more than 48 hours for purposes of investigation and that only in exceptional circumstances could an alien be detained for more than two weeks. Moreover, if a refusal of entry or expulsion order had been made, an alien might be detained for up to two months, unless there were exceptional grounds for a longer period. In addition, he provided statistical data on the number of alien adults and children detained in 1992 and the length of their period of detention.

382. With regard to articles 12 and 13 of the Convention, the representative informed the Committee of the procedures available to persons who considered themselves victims of illegal acts to institute private prosecutions. He explained that although the Code of Judicial Procedure contained provisions for the initiation of private prosecutions, in most cases of serious assault the alleged victim was not entitled to initiate a prosecution on his own unless the prosecutor had decided not to prosecute. Regarding procedures available to deal with complaints against police officers, the representative indicated that special disciplinary boards existed for dealing with complaints against police officers as well as prosecutors and judges and that individuals could in certain cases address their complaint directly to those bodies. He also made mention of the precautionary measures adopted in the investigation of offences against a police officer, namely, that the public prosecutor would not choose close colleagues of the police officer charged to investigate into the matter.

383. In connection with article 16 of the Convention, the representative presented further information on the outcome of a government investigation of psychiatric care. He indicated that the report of the investigation contained proposals to establish a Swedish institute against torture and organized violence, which would be financed by the allotment to it of 1 per cent of Swedish development aid to countries where torture occurred. In addition, the report had described different methods of torture and different methods of treatment and that, once the competent authorities, had studied the report, it was expected that a government bill would be presented.

Conclusions and recommendations
384. The Committee expressed its satisfaction that there were no allegations that persons deprived of their liberty had been subjected to ill-treatment amounting to torture nor was there any other evidence that torture had been found in Sweden.

385. Thus, in all respects Sweden met the standards of the Convention.

386. The Committee was pleased to conclude that the legal and administrative regimes described during the consideration of the report of Sweden were models to which most other countries should aspire.


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