The Parliamentary Ombudsmen (JO) are appointed by the Swedish Riksdag (parliament) to ensure that public authorities and their staff comply with the laws and other statutes governing their actions.
Göteborg district court appoint public defence counsellors according to a system of lists of lawyers assigned by the court. Due to critic towards one lawyer represented on the district court’s lists, the chief judge at the district court decided to remove the lawyer from all of the so-called lists of appointed lawyers. In the Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s decision, criticism is directed towards the chief judge for the handling of information concerning the lawyer. If the chief judge found that the critic against the lawyer was of substance he should have verified the critic and so forth handed the information over to the district court’s employees responsible for assigning public defence counsellors. They had then had the possibility, as they conduct their screening of defence counsellors pursuant to Chapter 21 Section 5 of the Code of Judicial Procedure, to consider the information.
According to the course description for legal history, at the Department of Law at Stockholm University, students were able to demand a re-examination of their exam, within a certain time span. The re-examination meant that the examiner conducted a new material assessment of the exam. When the time limit for the re-examination had expired, the student could request a review of the exam, if, according to the course description, it was based on formal grounds. In a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen a student declared that the university limited students’ right to receive a full review. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that there is no evidence to support that a student need to submit a review within a certain time span and that the course description gives the impression that the review only includes correction. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen holds that the information may lead to students not exercising their right to request a material review when the time limit has expired. In the present case Stockholm University can not escape criticism for giving out misleading information in their course description.
The police can not apprehend a person for intoxication if the person is at home. In the present compliant case the Parliamentary Ombudsmen has examined cases concerning the apprehension of intoxicated persons in an inner courtyard of a block of flats, and also in a stairwell of a block of flats. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, neither an inner courtyard nor a stairwell belongs to a private home, pursuant to the provisions concerning apprehension based upon intoxication. For this reason, there is no prohibition against apprehending a person for intoxication on these premises. The purpose of prohibiting an apprehension of an intoxicated person in a private home is to protect the person’s right to personal integrity and privacy. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen has observed that a person was apprehended after stepping out of their home into the stairwell, to talk to the police. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen holds that an intoxicated person has not waived the right prohibiting the apprehension of an intoxicated person in a private home, when the person step out of their home to talk to the police, due to, for example, the reason that there are other people in the home. The same applies in situations when the police has not met the intoxicated person in the person’s home but asked the person to leave the home to talk to them. In situations like these, there are no preconditions to apprehend a person for intoxication, according to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen. The Police Authority is criticised for conducting the apprehension in a stairwell.
The police were called to a man’s home following a report of unlawful threat. After speaking to a woman outside the home the police officers concluded that they were going to mediate in a conflict between the man and the woman, concerning personal belongings. When the police officers entered the man’s home the man asked if he could be photographed with one of the police officers as they had played football together when they were children. The other police officer photographed the two of them using the man’s mobile phone. The man then posted the photo on Facebook and Instagram. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen stress that it is essential that a police officer acts objective and impartial. A police officer that agrees to take part in a photo, in connection to official business, together with an individual that is involved in the case, creates a situation that may lead to a third party questioning the police’s impartiality. If the police officer knows an individual from before this is particularly important and regardless if there is a circumstance that constitutes disqualification or not. When the police officer agreed to be photographed with the man, the police officer overlooked the requirements that are put on the police. The police officer is criticized for his actions. The police officer that took the photograph can not escape criticism. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen there may be situations in which a police officer can be photographed with the public or with an individual that is connected to a case, without having his or hers objectiveness or impartiality questioned. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen emphasises, however, that a police officer that agrees to take part in a photo, in most cases, is unable to control how a third party use the photograph. Therefore, when a third party asks to have their photograph taken with the police, he or she should carefully consider if the photograph can risk that the police officer’s impartiality is questioned or of it can harm the public’s trust in the police.
A woman requested to access her and her son’s records from the social services administration. The board of the administration rejected her request with a written decision. The woman appealed the decision to the administrative court of appeal that remanded the decision to the board for a new adjudication. The board had not given sufficient grounds why the documents were classified or why no cause of detriment had been examined nor information given concerning the provisions applied. The board then took a new decision and again rejected the request. The woman appealed the decision and the administrative court of appeal remanded the case once again to the board for a new adjudication, as, in summary, the board had not conducted an adequate secrecy test. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen turn to the subject of how the social welfare board handle a case on the disclosure of documents when the administrative court of appeal has remanded the case for a new adjudication. The board shall then process the request according to the administrative court of appeal’s instructions. If the social welfare board finds reasons not to disclose certain documents, the board shall reject the request with a written and appealable decision. In the present complaint case the consequence of the social welfare board’s deficient handling was that the woman, for a long duration of time, was not able to bring her case to court. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards the board for the processing of this case.
Prior to opiate addicts’ medication-assisted treatment (so-called methadone withdrawal programmes) clinics generally need to collect data concerning the patient from other authorities as well as, among others, the patient’s family members and employers. The data that the clinic collects is of a sensitive and personal nature and often classified, because of this the patient need to give his or her consent to access the information. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen puts forward specific statements of principle emphasising the importance of the individual’s right to personal integrity. Clinics need to ensure that the patient’s consent does not extend further beyond what is necessary for an accurate investigation. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen also states that it is incorrect by clinics to hand out informational material or consent forms that give the impression that the patient’s consent to access personal data is a prerequisite for treatment. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards the County Council in Dalarna County for the formulation of a consent form used prior to medication-assisted treatment. Region Östergötland cannot escape criticism for using deficient informational material.
By order of the district court, regarding a child custody dispute, the social services handed in two statements to the court. The statements included records of two talks held with the child at the time when the child was 13 years of age. The social services’ case officer was summoned to the district court to be heard as a witness at the main hearing. To confirm that the child kept to the information the child had given in previous talks the case officer held a third talk with the child before the main hearing. The talk took place in the mother’s home. The boy’s father did not receive any information about the talk until the main hearing. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that the boy had reached such an age and maturity that he himself was able to decide if he wished to speak to the social services or not. Because of this, the father’s consent was not necessary. However, it is important that a case officer acts impartial; under no circumstances shall neither party in a dispute perceive a case officer as bias. If one custodian, first at the main hearing, receives information about a new talk with the child, it can lead to the custodian questioning the case officer’s impartiality; this can damage the trust in the case officer. The case officer should have informed the father before the main hearing about the content of the talk.
During the autumn, JO Stefan Holgersson will begin a series of inspections focusing on unaccompanied minors to see if their basic rights are being respected.
On 9 June, Justice of the Supreme Administrative Court Elisabeth Rynning was elected unanimously by Parliament to be the new Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen's overall statements for each supervisory area the year 2015/16.
The Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsmen - JOBox 16327 • SE-103 26 Stockholm • SwedenVisiting Address: Västra Trädgårdsgatan 4 AOpening hours: 9.00–12.00, 13.00–15.00