June 2023 | Parliament approves increase in penalties for crimes against journalists
Parliament approved amendments to the criminal code to strengthen the protection of journalists and prevent attacks on reporters. The changes aim to safeguard impartial reporting by journalists by minimising the risk of exposure to threats which may affect their work or lead to self-censorship. The amendments ensure that crimes committed against a person because of their role as a journalist are assessed more harshly and carry higher penalties. Recent research by Lund University found a need for increased resources and priority within the legal system to address online harassment against journalists. The changes also introduce penal provisions to expressly prevent abuse and harassment against other “socially beneficial functions,” including personnel in healthcare, social services, rescue services and schools, to ensure the uninhibited performance of duties deemed critical for society, and to protect occupations that are especially exposed to threats.
May 2023 | New law expands scope of terrorism-related crimes
Parliament approved a new terror law which criminalises participation in or support to a terrorist organisation, including through organising terrorist activities; providing funding, equipment, transport or housing to such groups; and publicly encouraging and recruiting for terrorist activities. The law was approved with 268 votes in favour, 34 votes against and 47 abstentions. The Council of Legislation (Lagrådet) criticised the bill as unnecessary and risking too far-reaching criminalisation further to a legal review completed in March. Observers have said that the move seeks to address Turkey’s blocking of Sweden’s bid to join NATO, where Ankara has accused Swedish authorities of harbouring members and supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). This sentiment was renewed by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) after the PKK flag was projected onto the Swedish Parliament building by protesters in May.
January 2023 | Far-right politician burns Quran
Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right Stram Kurs (Hard Line) party, burned a copy of the Quran at a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm. Paludan is a citizen of both Sweden and Denmark. The Swedish Security Service has warned that Sweden may be vulnerable to increased security threats in response to the Quran burning. Paludan had earlier organized Quran-burning provocations in 2022, sparking riots, as well as protests by the Swedish Muslim community.
November 2022 | Controversial espionage law passed in parliament
A new espionage law, which creates offences of “foreign espionage,” “aggravated foreign espionage” and “disclosing secret information in international cooperation,” has passed with a large majority in Sweden’s Parliament. The law will require changes in Sweden’s press and freedom of expression legislation. Disclosing secret information in specific situations related to Sweden’s international cooperation that could harm the country’s relationship with international organizations or other countries, could be a punishable crime. Jessica Wetterling, a Left Party Member of Parliament, argued that the new law will lead to uncertainty, self-censorship and will impact whistleblowing.