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.
Region Uppsala did not require a custodian’s consent when vaccinating minors, age 15-17, against Covid-19. The region instead assessed the minor’s maturity. In cases of healthcare for children a custodian’s consent is required as a general rule, if it is not clear that the child has reached such maturity that he or she can take a position on the care measure in question. The assessment of the maturity required is dependent on what kind of healthcare that is given and the urgency of the care. In regards to vaccination of minors, between the age of 15-17, against Covid-19, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman does not make any statements concerning Region Uppsala’s choice not to require a custodian’s consent and instead assess a minor’s maturity in each individual case. Moreover, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman makes no further statements regarding how the region scheduled appointments for the vaccination.
The Migration Agency decided to detain an individual to enforce an expulsion decision by the agency. The following day, the Police Authority decided that the individual in question should be detained for the execution of an expulsion order due to a crime. The police’s decision was appealed and the Migration Court of Appeal decided that the detainee should be removed from detention as the police’s decision had not been made within the statutory deadline of two months from the most recent decision on detention, and moreover due to the fact that the Migration Agency’s decision had been made by the wrong authority and therefore lacked legal support. The Parliamentary Ombudsman notes that there were uncertainties surrounding which of the both authorities that were authorized to process the case on detention. The Parliamentary Ombudsman states that cases concerning the deprivation of liberty places high demands on authorities to have well-functioning routines for how case officers should act in various situations that may arise. The Parliamentary Ombudsman is of the opinion that the two authorities should have made a proper analysis of which authority that were authorized to go forward with the processing. If the officials involved realized that there was uncertainty as to which authority was competent to decide on the matter, the case should have been processed by authorized officials at a higher level within each authority. The Parliamentary Ombudsman directs criticism towards the Police Authority and the Migration Agency for failing to ensure that the detention was managed in a legally secure manner. The Migration Court of Appeal is criticized for not ensuring that the decision was received and brought to attention at the institution where the detainee was placed.
A company requested access to certain documents from the National Archives. The authority rejected the request with reference to the fact that the documents were covered by secrecy pursuant to section 21, chapter 7 of the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act. When the company appealed the decision, the Administrative Court of Appeal referred the case back to the National Archives and stated, in their justification, that the authority had no reason to reject the request with reference to the stated provision. The National Archives then, once more, decided to reject the request pursuant to chapter 7 of the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act. The Administrative Court of Appeal again referred the case back to the National Archives for further processing. Thereafter the National Archives did not register any proceedings in the case for seven months. The Parliamentary Ombudsman states that it follows from the rules of procedure that an authority must follow the decisions of the higher court and apply the court’s directions, an exemption can only be accepted if special reasons apply. Furthermore, the Parliamentary Ombudsman states that it is severe that an authority goes against a decision of a higher court and that it is contrary to basic requirements on how representatives of the public sector should act. The Parliamentary Ombudsman states that the National Archives’ proceedings, that followed upon the Administrative Court of Appeal’s first decision, can almost be described as defiance of the court and that the National Archives recives severe criticism due to this fact.
In light of the increased spread of Covid-19, Arbetsförmedlingen [the Public Employment Service], took two decisions, on March 17, 2020, regarding a temporary halt on sanctions on individuals that did not hand in their activity report as well as a temporary halt on sanctions and notifications. The purpose of the decisions was partly to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and partly to release human resources from certain duties, to ensure socially important functions. The Parliamentary Ombudsman states that Arbetsförmedlingen, like many other authorities, was facing a difficult situation in March of 2020 and that it was difficult, during this time period, to assess the consequences of Covid-19. However, the fact that an authority is in a difficult situation does not mean that the authority is free to override, without legal support, the obligations that the authority shall abide by. The Parliamentary Ombudsman further states that Arbetsförmedlingen’s decisions on March 17, 2020 goes against the authority’s obligation pursuant to chapter 6, section 2 to 4 of the Ordinance on Renumeration to Participants in Labour Market Policy Initiatives and section 16 of the Ordinance on Labour Market Policy Operations. The decisions conveyed, that while the decisions were in motion, the authority failed to fulfil certain obligations that the government has instructed the authority to perform. There is no legal support for the decisions that were taken, and the authority has thereby acted in violation of the principle of legality as stipulated in chapter 1, section 1, third paragraph of the Instrument of Government and section 5, first paragraph of the Administrative Procedure Act. Due to this failure Arbetsförmedlingen receives criticism. The authority also receives criticism due to their processing of a requested re-examination.
In an anonymous complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, it was alleged that several inmates, at Bomhus remand prison, had been searched naked in front of a camera in a gymnasium. Due to the complaint the Parliamentary Ombudsman decided to investigate the case within the framework of an enquiry. The investigation proves that a body search had been conducted at the alleged time, of a number of inmates, due to a suspicion of narcotics at a certain floor, and that the remand prison did not consider whether there was reason to monitor the coercive measures. Consequently, the camera had not been turned off. The Parliamentary Ombudsman states that she does not question the prison’s assessment of the body search but emphasizes that the actual need for a body search, when it is monitored by a camera, must be considered in each individual case. In this context, she holds, that according to the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s understanding, there must be strong evidence to justify such supervision when an inmate is forced to undress naked due to undergo the coercive measures. As the camera surveillance, at the present time, cannot be considered to have been acceptable due to the breach of the individual’s right to privacy the remand prison receives criticism. Moreover, the Parliamentary Ombudsman emphasizes that the so-called principle of consideration and the protection of the inmate’s privacy requires that the coercive measures taken against them are carried out respectfully according to the circumstances of each individual case. In the opinion of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the starting point should be that such measures are carried out in a room where camera surveillance does not normally occur. If there is a camera in the room, it is important to ensure that inmates know when they are not being monitored by the camera.
In June of 2021 the European Parliament and the Council adopted a provision regarding a framework for, among other things, the issuing of certificates regarding vaccination of Covid-19. The provision stipulates that member states, upon a request by an individual that require a vaccine certificate, will issue a certificate. In Sweden the eHealth Agency is responsible for the certificates. Initially, the eHealth Agency prioritized a digital solution for issuing vaccination certificates, which presupposed that the individual held an e-ID and a Swedish social security number. There was also a possibility for individuals, without e-ID, to request a certificate through a certain manual process. However, the processing required that the individual, during an initial time period, needed a social security number and a population registration address in Sweden. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen has previously emphasized that far from all individuals are accustomed to, or have confidence in, digital tools and services. Moreover, there are individuals that do not have the opportunity to use an e-ID. Authorities must be available to, and offer appropriate means of communication for, these individuals as well. This must be considered in particular for services that are of great importance to an individual. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman states that the EU regulation entails an obligation for Sweden to issue vaccination certificates to individuals who have been vaccinated in Sweden. This obligation also covers individuals without a social security number or who do not have a population registration address. The eHealth Agency’s routine thus meant that a certain category of individuals was exempted from the possibility of requesting a certificate. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman understands that the new processing has entailed certain difficulties and challenges for the eHealth Agency. However, the fact that some individuals, despite having met formal requirements, have not been able to obtain a vaccination certificate, is not acceptable, especially as vaccination certificates are intended to increase opportunities for free movement during the pandemic. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman is critical of the fact that the eHealth Agency has not fulfilled its obligations in this area.
The inspection proved that Arbetsförmedlingen [the Public Employment Service] deals with major problems due to long processing times in cases concerning re-examination and that the processing had not been conducted pursuant to section 9 of the Administrative Procedure Act. Nearly all of the reviewed cases had been left without measures for several months and the processing times of the closed cases were as long as up to seven months. The Parliamentary Ombudsman states that Arbetsförmedlingen is far from what is stipulated regarding processing of cases concerning re-examination which sets up that cases on re-examination should be processed for four to six weeks at the most, and that the current situation is very severe. The Parliamentary Ombudsman further states that the long processing times in cases of re-examination are something that, in the long run, risks damaging the confidence in Arbetsförmedlingen. It is therefore important that the authority immediately rectifies the problems. The Parliamentary Ombudsman expects that the authority’s management prioritises improving the situation, and intends to follow developments in the area. In regards to other observations, the Parliamentary Ombudsman states, among other things, that the considerations that are taken in connection to translation matters must be documented, and that it is important that the communication that occurs clearly states which documents that have been sent to the individual, and that the documentation in the cases must state when a request for a re-examination is received. The Parliamentary Ombudsman further notes that the authority, as a general rule, submits appeals to the court within three days, and that it became clear, among cases examined, that appeals had been sent on the same day as it had been received by the authority.
During the processing of a matter of employment at an authorised security company, by the county administrative board of Stockholm county, a question regarding the approval of the employment arose, as information was revealed that the individual seeking employment was included in the suspicion directory. As the Police Authority announced that the individual in question had not been notified of the suspicion, within the framework of the criminal investigation, the board awaited the police’s processing in order to be able to communicate the information about the suspicion. The Parliamentary Ombudsman notes that, in principle, the regulations do not give the county administrative board any room to postpone a decision on approving an employment simply because no notification of the suspicion had been communicated, within the framework of the criminal investigation. However, in regards to the obligation to communicate a notification, pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, the Parliamentary Ombudsman considers it acceptable that the board awaited, a short time, with the processing, if it can provide conditions for communicating a broader material, but if the suspect would not receive a notification within a few weeks, the Parliamentary Ombudsman states that the county administrative board cannot wait to pursue the case. Instead, the board shall, as soon as possible, take the necessary additional investigative measures and decide on the case. The Parliamentary Ombudsman directs criticism towards the board for delaying to take a decision on the case.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen's overall statements for each supervisory area the year 2020/21.
A summary of the Annual Report for the fiscal year 2020/21 is available for download on the web site.
Summaries of the latest decisions.
The Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsmen - JOBox 16327 • SE-103 26 Stockholm • SwedenVisiting Address: Västra Trädgårdsgatan 4 AOpening hours: 9.00–11.30, 13.00–15.00