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.
Whilst a preliminary investigation was ongoing, the injured party changed her surname. Her personal details were to be kept confidential, owing to the suspect. The new surname was provided in the preliminary investigation report and was revealed to the suspect. In the decision, JO ascertains that the suspect has an unconditional right to obtain the details included in the preliminary investigation report. As a provision in the public notice of the preliminary investigation stated that the injured party's name was to be included in the preliminary investigation report, JO believes it is not possible to withhold the name from the suspect. JO states that it is of fundamental importance that a suspect is aware of the injured party’s identity in order to be able to effectively defend themselves. If the identity is already known to the suspect, however, there is usually no reason, with regard to the suspect’s legal security, to reveal a name that the injured party changed to during the preliminary investigation period. According to JO, changes to the existing regulations should be considered, with the aim of increasing confidentiality for an injured party in such a situation. The decision has therefore been submitted to the Ministry of Justice.
A person was granted economic support in the form of a placement in a drug-free assisted living facility. The placement was voluntary. However, to be able to be placed in an assisted living facility, the individual was required to adhere to the rules at the facility. These included regular compulsory urine samples and breathalyser tests. The matter in question is whether these drug tests comply with the protection against invasive body searches afforded in Chapter 2, Article 6 of the Swedish Instrument of Government. Every citizen has protection against forced physical intrusion (Chapter 2, Article 6 of the Instrument of Government). The law permits limitation of this protection under certain circumstances. An intrusion is forced if the authority disposes over instruments to enforce the measure or if the individual's opposition is broken down via a threat of sanction. The requirement for a person applying for economic support to submit a urine sample or any other drug test has no support within the Swedish Social Services Act. To conduct such tests therefore requires that the individual gives their voluntary consent. JO inter alia states the following: When choosing an intervention, it is important that the individual receives clear information and really understands the conditions for the measure and the options that are available to them. From the individual’s perspective, requiring a urine sample and breathalyser test can be interpreted as intrusive as the individual cannot receive the intervention in question or must leave the facility if they do not undergo drug testing in accordance with the rules at the facility. However the individual does not have any unconditional right to a particular intervention by social services. If they do not want to provide a urine sample, support can be provided in another form. Discharge and the offer of other accommodation, which may be the consequence of not providing consent, can therefore not be interpreted as a sanction entailing that the requirements for drug testing are to be viewed as invasive. JO therefore does not direct any criticism at the administration.
In the decision, JO makes statements regarding the suspect's right to access preliminary investigation material and, with reference to secrecy, the possibilities to limit this right of access. JO provides an account of the different views on the matter that have been expressed in legislative history, practice and doctrine, and ascertains that the law applicable in this case is that the suspect's access right can be restricted, pursuant to Chapter 10, Section 3, first paragraph of the Swedish Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act (OSL). According to JO, there are good grounds for such an order. The legal grounds upon which this access right is based cannot be considered to require that the suspect is to have an unconditional right to access all information that has come to light during the preliminary investigation. This includes information that is of no significance to the criminal investigation. Naturally however, the right of access may not be restricted to such an extent, or relate to such information, that it jeopardises or infringes the suspect's ability to fully safeguard their rights or prepare their defence. In the preliminary investigation in question, information was extracted from the injured party's mobile telephone. The entire record of the extraction was included in the provisional preliminary investigation report issued to the defence, despite the fact that information of no significance to the criminal investigation is not to be included in a preliminary investigation report. According to JO, an injured party should be able to assume that the law enforcement agencies undertake the relevant measures to avoid the dissemination of private information. The prosecutor responsible has been criticised for insufficient control over what information extracted from the telephone was included in the preliminary investigation report. Furthermore, this led to information, which most likely could have been kept confidential as per Chapter 10, Section 3, first paragraph of OSL, being revealed to the suspect.
A patient was being treated under forensic psychiatric care as an outpatient, on the condition that he would refrain from taking drugs and undergo drug testing. At one visit to the clinic, the patient provided a urine sample that screened positive for amphetamines. As a result, it was suspected that the patient had used drugs in violation of the terms for his care. The patient was informed that he could either remain at the clinic voluntarily until the urine sample had been verified, or a decision would be made to convert the outpatient care to inpatient forensic psychiatric care. The patient stayed on the unit for seven days. The screening sample had then been tested and showed a negative result. In a report to the Parliamentary Ombudsman (JO), the patient complained about the senior consultants involved and stated that he had been deprived of his liberty as he did not stay at the clinic voluntarily. JO begins by stating that a result provided during a screening test should be used with caution, as the result is not sufficiently reliable. As a positive result may be false, actions against a patient should not be taken based on one such test. JO criticises the senior consultants involved and believes that the basis for their decision was incorrect; that it was a given that the patient was to receive inpatient care until the drug test had been verified. Instead, it would have been better to employ a cautionary principle and thoroughly evaluate whether other less invasive measures would have sufficed. JO expresses further criticism towards one senior consultant for not requesting that the sample be prioritised. The results of the analysis were decisive to whether or not he should remain under inpatient care. Regarding the question of the voluntary nature of the patient's stay at the clinic, JO states the following: For consent to form the basis for a medical procedure, there must be substantial evidence that consent is voluntary. A medical procedure may not be performed under duress. The patient must have received information on any alternatives available. It is only then that the patient may give their informed consent. The same reasoning may be applied to matters of admission to inpatient care according to the Health and Medical Service Act (HSL). In a situation such as the one outlined here, where the patient clearly found himself in a state of dependence on the doctors, high standards must be set to ensure that actions are voluntary. JO's assessment is that the content of the information provided to the patient did not meet the requirements for clarity, objectivity and completeness necessary for the patient to make a well-founded decision. Notes in the medical journal also suggest that the information was provided in such a way that the patient could not have understood that he had any other option than to stay at the clinic. JO therefore considers that, under these conditions in which the patient had reason to believe he must follow the doctors’ demands, genuine consent was not provided. The patient also clearly expressed his discontent. It must have been clear to medical staff that it [consent] had not been given.
For several years people have approached JO with complaints of long processing times at the Migration Board and that it is difficult to come into contact with Board case officers. JO has conducted a general investigation into these matters. In two decisions dated 17 September 2014, the Migration Board received criticism for their long processing times for matters pertaining to, inter alia, residence permits due to family ties and employment, and for insufficient service and accessibility. JO has since continued to monitor these matters through a specific follow-up of the measures undertaken by the Migration Board to address these processing times and to improve service for applicants. The follow-up shows that processing times in cases pertaining to residence permits due to family ties have further increased, despite actions taken by the Migration Agency. JO concludes that reasons for these continued long processing times are predominantly beyond the control of the Migration Agency and therefore does not direct any criticism towards the Board itself. Nevertheless, the situation is critical. The ultimate responsibility for the Migration Board's ability to issue decisions within a reasonable time frame and statutory deadlines lies with the Swedish Government and Riksdag. JO therefore submits a copy of its decision to the Ministry of Justice. Throughout the follow-up period, the Migration Board has continually worked to improve service and access for applicants. JO takes it for granted that the Agency will continue to develop and follow up on these matters. JO finds no grounds to make any further statement about the Board's service and accessibility.
Subsequent to the Swedish Migration Agency deciding to deport a woman seeking asylum and her children who are minors, the case was handed over to the former Police Authority in Stockholm County for enforcement. On the morning of the departure, the Police Authority performed a search of the woman’s residence where they found her and the children. They were driven to the police station and then to the airport. Chapter 9, Section 9 of the Aliens Act was given as the basis for the decision for collection by the Police Authority. The decision ascertains that the provision forming the basis of the Police Authority's collection was not applicable in this case. As there was also no other legal support for the action, the Police Authority is criticised for having implemented the measures. In the decision, JO states that the Aliens Act should be clarified so it is clear which coercive measures the Police are entitled to use when enforcing a refusal of entry or expulsion order. The decision has therefore been submitted to the Ministry of Justice.
Subsequent to the Swedish Migration Agency deciding to deport an asylum seeker, the case was handed over to the former Police Authority in Gävleborg County for enforcement. The Police Authority detained the man pursuant to Chapter 10, Section 1 of the Swedish Aliens Act in order to prepare and conduct the deportation. As the man did not have the necessary travel documents for implementing the decision for deportation, the Police Authority transported him to his country’s embassy. The travel and visit at the embassy took place against the man's will. According to the Police Authority, the provision regarding detainees provides support for the transportation of a detainee to their country's embassy. The decision notes that the definition of a detainee is not specified in detail in the legislation. According to JO, it is unsatisfactory that neither the wording of an act nor legislative history provide a clear account of the authority held by the Police to enforce a refusal of entry or expulsion order. As the coercive measures available to the Police within the framework for a detainee should not simply follow interpretations of the provision in Chapter 10, Section 1 of the Aliens Act, the decision has been submitted to the Ministry of Justice. JO also doubts that confidentiality in the protection of the individual can be maintained when visiting an embassy. Taking into account the uncertainties in implementing the legislation, no criticism is directed at the Police Authority for conducting the visit to the embassy.
Arbetsförmedlingen issued an official letter to G.A.A. containing a response to a complaint that he had made and a decision to cancel his assignment for labour market training. The cancellation decision was made without G.A.A having previously obtained the documents forming the basis of the decision and without providing the opportunity for him to comment upon them. No circumstances have come to light that have meant that communication could have been omitted. Arbetsförmedlingen is criticised for their failure in this regard. Furthermore, JO ascertains that it is unclear whether the official letter sent to G.A.A. contains a decision. Nor does it state which regulation formed the basis of the decision. Therefore the official letter is difficult to understand and the basic requirements for motivating a decision have not been met. Arbetsförmedlingen is criticised for this. The agency is also criticised for not informing G.A.A. of what to do in the event he was unhappy with the decision and wanted it to be reassessed. The investigation shows that the way Arbetsförmedlingen managed the case for cancellation of G.A.A's assignment has failed to meet its communication obligation as well as its obligation to provide its motivation and information. The matter highlights the importance of Arbetsförmedlingen ensuring the implementation of the rules and principles of administrative law in its operations. JO looks positively on the focus the matters have generated within the agency and emphasises that the ongoing work to strengthen employment officers’ knowledge of administrative law management is important.
On 9 June, Justice of the Supreme Administrative Court Elisabeth Rynning was elected unanimously by Parliament to be the new Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman.
Stefan Holgersson started his new position as Parliamentary Ombudsman on April 1, 2016.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen's overall statements for each supervisory area the year 2014/15. »»
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