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Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination, Sweden, U.N. Doc. A/49/18, paras. 181-208 (1994).






Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination



181. The eleventh periodic report of Sweden (CERD/C/239/Add.1) was considered by the Committee at its 1018th and 1019th meetings, on 3 March 1994 (see CERD/C/SR.1018 and 1019).

182. The report was introduced by the representative of the State party, who informed the Committee that a recent draft amendment to the Penal Code established harsher penalties for offences committed with the intent of insulting an individual or a group on grounds of race, skin colour, ethnic or national origin, religious belief or any other similar circumstance. Another bill submitted to Parliament proposing the prohibition of ethnic discrimination in the workplace would apply both to job seekers and to persons already in employment. It was also proposed that the Ethnic Discrimination Ombudsman should be able to take court action. The representative also announced the establishment of a special commission to combat xenophobia and racism.

183. The representative informed the members of the Committee that, in April 1993, the maximum period for suspension of a radio or television broadcasting permit, referred to in paragraph 28 of the report, had been increased from one year to five years. Updating the figures contained in paragraph 45 of the report, the representative informed the Committee that, in 1992, five persons had been convicted of agitating against an ethnic group, and two of illegal discrimination. The ban on trade with South Africa had been lifted, as well as the visa requirements for South African nationals. Lastly, the representative said that 36,500 residence permits had been granted to asylum seekers in 1993, including 30,300 to nationals from the former Yugoslavia.

184. Thanking the representative of Sweden for the supplementary information provided in the course of the oral introduction of the report, the Committee expressed its satisfaction at the State party's report and the regularity with which Sweden submitted reports to the Committee.

185. With reference to article 2 of the Convention, the members of the Committee welcomed the establishment of the Sami Assembly, but wondered to what extent the Assembly was independent and had genuine powers and what its activities had been in the course of its first year. They went on to ask why the choice of the Chairman of the Sameting and the determination of the Assembly's functions fell within the purview of the Government of Sweden. They also asked for further information on the Government's follow-up to the proposals made by the commission established to study measures to combat ethnic discrimination, which had submitted its first report in 1991. Members of the Committee then asked whether the Government had taken steps to favour integrationist multiracial organizations and movements and other means of eliminating barriers between races. Members of the Committee also wanted to know whether measures, and, if so, what measures, had been taken to preserve the language, culture and identity of the ethnic groups living in Sweden, which accounted for 10 per cent of the Swedish population.

186. In relation to article 4 of the Convention, members of the Committee noted the will of Sweden not to prohibit by legislative measures organizations qualified as racist. However, such measures were compulsory for States parties which had not entered reservations to article 4 of the Convention. They emphasized that such measures were all the more desirable in Sweden in that the Convention was not incorporated in national law and, accordingly, could not be invoked in court. With regard to racist attacks, members of the Committee were surprised at the large number of cases which had not been cleared up by the police and how light some of the sentences were in such cases. They asked for further information on cases of racist attacks mentioned in the report.

187. In connection with article 5 of the Convention, members of the Committee asked for further details on the legal regime applicable to reindeer herding, the possibility of expropriating grazing land from the Sami and the rights of non-Sami to hunt on reindeer grazing land belonging to Sami populations and to fish in lakes reserved for the Sami. Was it intended that the Swedish Parliament should soon include Sami representatives as such and that the Sami language should be recognized as a national language on the same footing as Swedish? The members of the Committee asked for further information on the number, situation and degree of integration of minorities other than the Sami living in Sweden.

188. With reference to article 6 of the Convention, inasmuch as the Ethnic Discrimination Ombudsman still did not have the power to institute legal proceedings against racist acts, members of the Committee asked whether such proceedings could be initiated only by the victim or also by organizations or associations combating discrimination and racism. Had the Government taken the requisite steps to publicize widely the possibility of recourse to the Committee, since Sweden had made the declaration under article 14 of the Convention?

189. Concerning article 7 of the Convention, members of the Committee deplored the absence of information on the measures taken in the fields of education, teaching and training to combat racial discrimination and prejudice.

190. In his reply, the representative of Sweden said that the questions he was unable to answer verbally would be answered in writing in Sweden's next periodic report.

191. With reference to the questions concerning the prohibition of racist organizations, the representative said that Sweden's position was to strike a balance between measures to combat racism and the protection of fundamental freedoms, such as the freedom of expression, association and demonstration. In so doing, Sweden complied with its obligations by taking the appropriate measures, which, in its view, could be measures other than a prohibition on associations and organizations; moreover, the latter were not under an obligation to be registered, which might pose a problem in identifying them if Sweden introduced a system to prohibit associations of a racist character. The representative went on to point out that, since the Second World War, many immigrants and refugees had chosen to live in Sweden and the number had increased still more since 1992, although Sweden was not spared the economic recession and unemployment hit everyone living in Sweden, Swedes as well as foreigners.

192. In connection with the Sami, the representative of the State party said that the Sameting had the same powers as those in Finland and in Norway and that its Chairman was chosen by the people and appointed by the Swedish Government; since it had been established in August 1993, it was too soon to appraise its activity, but that would be done in Sweden's next periodic report. The hunting and fishing rights of the Sami were rights based on immemorial custom, and the State could not intervene and hinder those rights. On State land and on reindeer grazing land, hunting and fishing rights had been extended to non-Sami when the rights of the Sami were not affected. The expropriation referred to in paragraph 63 of the report affected lands which were the private property of Sami, who, in such cases, were compensated. Sami children, like all children in Sweden, had to go to school, which was compulsory, and their parents could elect to send them to Sami or Swedish schools.

193. The representative of Sweden said human rights were taught in schools and formed part of police training programmes. At the present time, associations or organizations for protection against racial discrimination could not bring a case of discrimination against an individual or a group of individuals to court, but such a measure was under examination. Further details on the origin of ethnic groups and aliens living in Sweden would be given in the next periodic report. Sweden's policy was to favour the integration of foreigners; immigrants enjoyed the same opportunities and had the same rights and obligations as did Swedes. For that policy, Sweden had been awarded the Carl Bertelsmann Prize. To improve its policy towards foreigners still more, in January 1993 the Swedish Government had instructed a parliamentary commission to reform the policies applied to immigrants and refugees, particularly from the standpoint of employment and of a knowledge of Swedish, as factors favouring the integration of foreigners.

Concluding observations

194. At its 1034th meeting, on 15 March 1994, the Committee adopted the following concluding observations.

(a) Introduction

195. The State party is commended for its regularity in fulfilling its reporting obligations and appreciation is expressed for the opportunity to engage in a frank and constructive dialogue with representatives of the State party during which information was received on the most recent developments relating to the implementation of the Convention in Sweden.

(b) Positive aspects

196. It is noted that a special commission has been established with the task of combating xenophobia and racism, and the legislative measures proposed to strengthen the penalization of racist or other similarly motivated offences by amending the Penal Code are welcomed, as are the plans to endow the Ethnic Discrimination Ombudsman with a litigating role and to counteract ethnic discrimination in the workplace. These initiatives are an indication of the importance the State party attaches to meeting its obligations under the Convention.

(c) Principal subjects of concern

197. Concern is expressed at the manifestations of xenophobia and racism occurring in Sweden in recent years. In this connection, it is underlined that persons holding or carrying out functions in the public or political spheres should not be permitted to contribute to expressions of racism and xenophobia.

198. Concern is also expressed about the inadequacy of measures taken by the Government to prevent occurrences of manifestations of xenophobia and racism and to protect effectively potential victims of such manifestations, particularly those from immigrant groups.

199. It is noted with concern that legislative measures prohibiting racist organizations, namely those disseminating ideas of racial superiority or racial hatred, have not been introduced by the State party.

200. Additionally, serious concern is expressed about recent legislative measures having a detrimental effect on Sami rights with respect to their traditional fishing, hunting and reindeer-raising activities and about the pace of progress towards the equality of members of ethnic minorities and their integration.

(d) Suggestions and recommendations

201. The Committee recommends that effective measures continue to be adopted and implemented to ensure that manifestations of racism and xenophobia are not permitted.

202. The Committee reaffirms that the provisions of article 4, paragraphs (a) and (b), of the Convention are of a mandatory character as stated in general recommendation VII (32) of the Committee. It notes that so far these provisions have not been fully implemented in Sweden; therefore, the Committee recommends that the State party should carry out each obligation under those mandatory provisions of the Convention. When doing so, the Government should also take into account general recommendation XV (42) of the Committee.

203. The Committee requests that the next periodic report include information on the implementation of any new legislative or administrative measures taken to combat racism and ethnic discrimination, and the methods employed to deal with racially motivated or similar crimes, including the principles or criteria followed in determining the initiation of prosecutions for incitement to racial hatred and the sentencing of persons convicted of racially motivated crimes and in preventing ethnic discrimination in the workplace.

204. The Committee would also appreciate receiving details of the findings of a survey of public opinion on racial discrimination matters conducted in 1993 by the Centre for Research in International Migration and Ethnic Relations of the University of Stockholm. It also wishes to have more information on the effects of local authorities' decisions on immigration matters and the work of the National Board of Immigration as regards its role in forestalling and preventing conflicts.

205. The Committee also requests information on the ways and means employed to measure the success of preventive policies on racial discrimination and on the actual situation of minority groups in Sweden, particularly as regards the implementation of the rights provided for in article 5 of the Convention.

206. The Committee would welcome any information that the State party is able to provide concerning the relative effectiveness of different measures in the fields of teaching, education, culture and information in combating prejudices which lead to racial discrimination.

207. Finally, the Committee requests the State party to provide additional information in its next report on the functioning and work of the Sami Assembly and on the implementation of the Expropriation Act.

208. The Committee draws the attention of the State party to the amendment to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, which was approved by the 15th meeting of States parties and by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/111, and encourages the State party to expedite its action formally to accept that amendment.



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