Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1987

Sweden is a constitutional monarchy, whose King is Chief of
State. All executive authority is vested in the Cabinet,
which is formed through direct parliamentary elections every 3
years and consists of a Prime Minister (head of government)
and some 20 ministers. The 349 seats in the unicameral
Parliament are divided proportionally among the 5 political
parties currently represented. The Social Democratic Party,
Sweden's largest, was returned to power in the September 1985
elections, though with a reduced parliamentary plurality.
Sweden is an advanced industrial democracy with a high
standard of living, extensive social services, and a mixed
economy. Over 90 percent of business is privately owned.
Private persons are entirely free to express their political
preferences, pursue individual interests, and seek legal
resolution of disputes., appointed by the Parliament
with full autonomy, investigate private complaints of alleged
abuse of authority by officials and stipulate corrective
action, if required.
Respect for human rights is a basic social value that
underlies Sweden's active support of international efforts to
improve human rights observance. The human rights situation
was largely unchanged in 1987, but some human rights
organizations, such as the Swedish section of Amnesty
International, have complained about human rights violations,
particularly with respect to refugees seeking asylum who are
denied entry at the border. The same organization also
accused the Government of "passivity" and urged that the
Government publish an annual review of human rights observance
throughout the world. There have also been complaints about
the treatment of individual Kurds in connection with the
ongoing hunt for the murderer of former Prime Minister Olof
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
Freedom from:
     a. Political Killing
Killing for political motives by government or domestic
opposition groups does not occur. The murder of Prime
Minister Olof Palme in 1986 has still not been resolved,
however, and the motive for his assassination is unknown. The
Government minimizes the potential for terrorism through
cooperation with Interpol, refusal of visas to known
terrorists or persons with terrorist connections, border
control by immigration and customs authorities, and
surveillance of foreign persons who appear to be spying on
refugee groups in the country.
     b. Disappearance
Abduction, secret arrests, or clandestine detention by Swedish
authorities does not occur.
     c. Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Treatment or Punishment.
Swedish law prohibits these abuses, a prohibition respected by
Swedish authorities. Occasional accusations against individual
policemen for excessive use of force ir making arrests are
carefully investigated, and those investigations have not
produced evidence of a systematic problem. During 1987 there
were two cases when detained persons died in a police cell.
So far, however, no proof has been presented that the deaths
were caused by excessive use of force. Prison conditions are
generally good.
     d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, Exile or Forced Labor
Statutory guarantees of individual liberty are observed.
Persons disturbing the public order or considered dangerous
may be held for 6 hours without charge. Criminal suspects may
be held no longer than 12 hours without formal charges. If a
person files for bankruptcy and refuses to cooperate with the
official investigation, a court can order detention for up to
3 months (with judicial review every 2 weeks). Arrest is open
and by warrant. Legislation is under way to shorten the time
between arrest and arraignment before a magistrate which
presently is set at 5 days but occasionally has taken longer,
particularly during weekends and holidays. The new
legislation will require weekend and holiday duty for courts.
Bail does not exist, but Swedish suspects not considered
dangerous or likely to destroy evidence are released to await
trial. Foreigners are usually not released before trial nor
granted weekend furloughs from jail, as are many Swedish
offenders; the rationale is that they might flee the country.
Convicted foreign criminals are often expelled at the
conclusion of their prison terms, unless they risk execution
or other severe punishment at home. By law, Swedish citizens
cannot be expelled from the country.
Forced or compulsory labor does not exist in Sweden.
     e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Constitution forbids deprivation of liberty without public
trial by a court of law. The judiciary functions freely and
independently. The accused has the right to effective counsel,
although budget cutbacks since 1983 have restricted the
availability of public defenders to cases where the maximum
penalty could be a prison sentence of 6 months or more. The
Swedish judiciary system was criticized abroad in 1987,
particularly in Great Britain. A British officer was found
guilty of having smuggled 110 pounds of hashish into Sweden
and was sentenced to 5 years' imprisonment. The complaint
from Britain was that Swedish courts are permitted to accept
hearsay testimony from witnesses. There are no military
courts in peacetime.
     f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home or Correspondence
Freedom from these offenses is guaranteed by law. Home
searches are limited to investigations of crimes punishable by
at least 2 years' imprisonment, such as murder, robbery, rape,
arson, sabotage, counterfeiting, and treason. There are no
undue restrictions on marriage or child rearing in Sweden.
Wiretaps are permitted only in cases involving narcotics or
national security. Searches and wiretaps normally require
court approval. When time is critical, or when life is
believed to be in immediate danger, the ranking police officer
can approve these measures. Attempts to limit such police
authority are under way. Search warrants are granted only
after deliberation and only on the basis of well-founded
Human rights groups in Sweden have expressed concern about the
increased number of wiretaps. Although in 1980 the number of
persons subjected to wiretaps was 220, in 1984 the figure had
increased to 414. There is no indication, however, that
telephone monitoring is done arbitrarily. As a result of the
Palme murder investigation, a few instances have been reported
of police officers on their own initiative bugging the homes
of suspects, even though this is against Swedish law.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
     a. Freedom of Speech and Presso
Swedes enjoy these freedoms fully. Government subsidies to
daily newspapers, regardless of political affiliation, assure
the expression of differing opinions. Publication of
sensitive national security information and excessive violence
in films and television are subject to censorshdp-. Commercial
video tapes will soon be screened and censored as well if they
contain scenes of unacceptable violence. Radio and television
broadcasting is a government monopoly, while newspapers and
periodicals are for the most part privately owned and
     b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Swedes exercise these freedoms without restraint. Public
demonstrations reguire a police permit, for which applications
are routinely approved.
Workers are free to organize and have the right to strike. A
large majority of the working population belongs to a trade
union, including career military personnel and civilian
government officials. Unions and trade associations conduct
their activities with complete independence from the
Government and pursue international contacts intensively.
     c. Freedom of Religion
Swedes have unimpaired religious freedom. There is a state
Lutheran church, supported by public funds, but all faiths are
freely observed. Parents have full freedom to teach religious
practices of their choice to their children.
     d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Freedom of movement within and from the country and voluntary
repatriation are guaranteed by law and respected in practice.
Refugees, displaced persons, and others seeking political
asylum are on the whole generously treated, though long waits
and denial of asylum requests from applicants not meeting
internationally agreed criteria are becoming common.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Gonvernment
Sweden has a long history of vigorous democratic political
life within a representative, multiparty parliamentary
system. To enter Parliament, a party must win a minimum of 4
percent of the votes cast. There is universal suffrage over
age 18. Although voting is not compulsory, nearly 90 percent
of eligible voters participated in the 1985 elections. Aliens
who have been legal residents for at least 3 years have the
right to vote and run for office in municipal elections.
There has been periodic public discussion about extending this
right to national elections.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Ombudsmen serve as official governmental monitors of
individual rights in Sweden, effective both in making citizens
aware of their rights and publicizing and correcting abuse of
state authority. Active private organizations monitor issues
such as the impact on individuals of comprehensive social
legislation and the condition of the Lapp population.
Government agencies are in close contact with Amnesty
International, the Red Cross, church organizations, and a
variety of other private groups working in Sweden and abroad
to improve human rights observance. State-supported Stockholm
University offers instruction in making human rights complaints
to bodies such as the European Commission on Human Rights.
The United Nations Human Rights Commission in October 1985
reviewed Sweden's report on compliance with the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee
commented that Sweden lacks forceful legislation against
racism. Sweden responded that such legislation would not be
compatible with the Swedish Constitution which guarantees full
freedom of speech and the right to form organizations.
However, a government commission was established to
investigate ways of curbing racist groups, such as the tiny,
ult ranat ional ist Sweden Party.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Language, or Social Status
In 1986 the Government appointed a special ombudsman to deal
with complaints of racism or discrimination. By 1989 the
discrimination ombudsman will be required to submit a report
intended to form the basis for proposed legislation leading to
more effective prosecution and increased penalties for various
expressions of racism or discrimination. The ombudsman's
office is looking into issues such as allegations of
discrimination against immigrants in employment and housing.
Basic human needs for the entire population are thoroughly met
without discrimination. The State provides social welfare and
medical services, benefits to families, pensions, and
disability and unemployment insurance. The Government runs
special programs to help immigrants adjust to Swedish life and
culture (including 240 hours of paid language instruction).
Six of Sweden's 284 municipalities have voted to refuse
settlement to refugees. Both the Government and the political
parties are trying to persuade them to change their attitude.
Institutionalized efforts continue to extend equality between
the sexes through equal employment opportunity, legal
protection of the right to equal pay for equal work, and
public education to break down sexual stereotypes. A public
ombudsman, called the equality ombudsman, investigates
complaints of sex discrimination in the labor market.
Employers are required to base hiring decisions on merit and
to pursue actively the goal of equality.
Sweden rigorously upholds international standards regarding
working conditions, child labor, and occupational safety and
health. At each work site there is a designated ombudsman to
monitor observance of these regulations. Full-time employment
is permitted beginning at age 16, but those under 18 may work
only during daytime and under a foreman's supervision.
Thirteen-year olds can be hired for part-time work or light
"summer job" work for periods of 5 days or less. There have
been no reported abuses of these rules.SWITZERLAND
Switzerland is a constitutional democracy with a federal
structure. Federal legislative power is vested in a bicameral
legislature elected every 4 years. The Constitution guarantees
all basic freedoms. Initiative and referendum procedures
provide avenues for significant changes in policy through
direct action. Despite linguistic and religious diversity,
Switzerland has developed a political system based on national
Individual cantons have considerable autonomy. They are
directly involved in many human rights matters, subject to
limitations established by Federal legislative and
constitutional guarantees. Persons contending that their
rights have been violated at cantonal level can seek redress
by appeal to the Federal Supreme Court.
Switzerland traditionally serves as host for many
international organizations and conferences concerned with
humanitarian law and human rights, including the International
Labor Organization and the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC)
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
Freedom from:
     a. Political Killing
No such occurrences took place.
     b. Disappearance
There were no reports of abduction, secret arrests, or
clandestine detention.
     c. Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Constitution provides freedom from all of the above, and
there were no allegations of any violations. In Decem.ber
1986, Switzerland ratified the U.N. Convention on Torture and
Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
     d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, Exile or Forced Labor
Freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile is
guaranteed by law. A detained person may not be held longer
than 24 hours without a warrant of arrest issued by the judge
conducting the preliminary investigation. A suspect must
immediately be shown the warrant and has the right to contact
legal counsel as soon as a warrant is issued. A suspect may
be detained with a warrant until the investigation is
completed, but the length of investigative detention is always
reviewed by higher judicial authority, and investigations are
typically completed quickly. Bail, or release on personal
recognizance, is granted unless the examining magistrate
believes the individual is a danger to society or will not
appear for trial. Within the standards of local law, there is
a pattern of failure of certain cantonal authorities in
western Switzerland to provide timely notice and consular
access in the case of detained Americans (and perhaps other
There is no forced or compulsory labor in Switzerland.
     e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Constitution provides for public trials. Minor cases are
tried by a single judge, difficult cases by a panel of judges,
and murder or other serious crimes by a public jury. Even the
most serious cases are usually brought to trial within several
weeks or, at the most, a few months.
Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or
There were no allegations of violations of this nature by
Swiss authorities.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
     a. Freedom of Speech and Presso
There are no restrictions on freedom of speech and press
except in cases involving groups or associations considered a
potential threat to the State. No groups or associations are
so designated at the present time.
     b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The only restriction on peaceful assembly and association is a
requirement to obtain permits from police authorities before
holding public meetings. These are rarely refused unless
authorities have reason to believe the meeting will lead to
violence. There was considerable public criticism on one
occasion in 1987 when an antinuclear demonstration in Bern
became violent and resulted in widespread use of tear gas,
clashes between police and demonstrators, and property damage
in downtown Bern.
Labor unions enjoy full freedom to organize, strike, and
influence political decisions. Swiss labor relations have
been characterized by industrial peace, and strikes and
similar labor unrest are practically unknown.
     c. Freedom of Religion
Switzerland enjoys religious freedom. The legal requirement
for universal male military service thus far has provided no
exemption for conscientious objectors, who were nearly always
convicted for refusal to serve. Efforts to provide some form
of alternative service for those claiming exemption for
reasons of conscience were renewed in 1987, with a view to
providing alternative unarmed military or public labor service
for conscientious objectors. Amnesty International has
continued to express concern at the practice of prosecuting
conscientious objectors.
     d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Swiss citizens have freedom to travel in or outside the
country and can emigrate without difficulty.
Switzerland was traditionally a haven for refugees, but
concern over demands upon public services by growing numbers
of asylum seekers has tempered public support for liberal
policies in this regard. Situations involving economicSWITZERLAND
migrants, e.g., Tamils from Sri Lanka, led to reiteration of
the policy that applicants failing to meet criteria for
political asylum must subsequently depart Switzerland.
However, domestic political objection to such a policy and the
prevailing situation in countries of origin, such as Sri
Lanka, have resulted, in practice, in very few involuntary
departures. During a 1987 national referendum, two-thirds of
those voting approved amendment of the asylum and nationality
laws intended to improve procedures for both processing asylum
requests and expediting the departure of unsuccessful
applicants. The holding of the referendum appears to have
diminished active public concern over this issue.
The Swiss people generally remain willing to assist political
refugees; in 1987 prominent Soviet dissident psychiatrist
Anatoly Koryagin and his family were granted asylum. In
October 1987 parliamentary elections, a party whose platform
consisted mainly of opposition to foreigners lost both votes
and seats. However, Federal and cantonal actions also reflect
a popular consensus that Switzerland should continue to adhere
to a narrow definition of those entitled to assistance by
grant of asylum. Amnesty International in 1987 criticized
Switzerland, among other nations, for seeking to limit asylum
and immigration.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Gonvernment
Switzerland is a highly developed constitutional democracy.
There is universal adult suffrage in Federal elections.
Initiative and referendum procedures provide unusually intense
popular oversight of, and involvement in, the legislative
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
There were no requests during 1987 for outside investigations
of the human rights situation. Switzerland cooperates with
international and nongovernmental groups in all areas of human
rights. The ICRC is made up of Swiss nationals, and they play
prominent roles in other humanitarian nongovernmental
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Language, or Social Status
Involvement of women in the political and business worlds has
been limited historically but continues to expand slowly. At
least 28 women will sit in the new Parliament elecced in 1987,
an increase of at least 3 (based on incomplete election
results) over the previous session, and since 1984 a woman has
served on the 7-member Federal Council, the nation's executive
body. In January 1987, Switzerland adhered to the 1979 U.N.
Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
One of the smallest and most rural of the 26 cantons still
excludes female suffrage at the cantonal level, but this
situation is now regarded as a curiosity rather than a
disability by most Swiss women. Women are still subject to
some legal disabilities, are typically paid less than men for
equal work, and remain under represented in senior positions in
industry, banking, and government.SWITZERLAND
Italian and Romansch linguistic minorities (respectively about
10 and 1 percent of the population) express concern that the
limited resources made available to them by the Federal
Government endanger the continued intellectual vitality of
these languages. Some argue that this amounts to deprivation
of freedom of speech. Recurrent complaints about the lack of
an Italian-language university were answered by the
announcement in 1985 of plans for a university-level technical
institute in Lugano which, however, would not grant degrees.
The Federal Government's announced policy is to ensure,
through careful apportionment of funds, that all linguistic
groups have commensurate facilities and means to carry out
cultural activities in their own languages.
There is no national minimum wage. Industrial wages are
negotiated by employer associations and labor unions during
the collective bargaining process. The Labor Act established
a maximum 45-hour workweek for blue- and white-collar workers
in industry, offices, and retail trades, and a 50-hour
workweek for all other workers. Currently, the workweek for
blue-collar workers in most industries is 43 hours and for
white-collar workers between 40 and 43 hours. Overtime is
restricted by law to 120 hours annually.
The Labor Act and the Federal Code of Obligations contain
extensive regulations to protect the health and safety of
workers. Special provisions exist for female workers, who may
not be employed for dangerous work or, in industrial
enterprises, at night or on Sundays.
About 15 percent of the Swiss population of 6.5 million is
made up of habitual foreign residents, that is, foreign
workers and families. Prompted by popular concerns that
attribute unemployment to the influx of foreign labor, the
Government has sought to limit the numbers of foreign workers
entering Switzerland or obtaining residence permits. Federal
and cantonal authorities have made efforts to integrate
foreign workers and their families into social service
programs, although there has been some popular resentment at
the additional facilities provided to such foreign workers.
The minimum age for the employment of children is 15 years.
Children over 13 may be employed for light duties (e.g.,
helping in retail stores), for not more than 9 hours per week
during the school year and 15 hours otherwise. Strict
regulations govern employment of young people between the ages
of 15 and 20; for example, they may not work at night or on
Sundays, or under hazardous or dangerous conditions