COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE
19 OF THE CONVENTION
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
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
376. In respect of article 16 of the Convention, further details were
sought of the results of the Government's investigation into psychiatric
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.
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.