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.
A man under care at an LVM home was suspected of taking drugs. The home decided that the man would be monitored every thirty minutes after he retired to his room to sleep. During the night, the staff at the home monitored the man in accordance with the specified interval. During the supervision, the staff noted that the man was sleeping deeply and snoring. The man died during the night. The issue in the case is whether the National Board of Institutional Care failed in its supervision of the man. The National Board of Institutional Care has a routine for supervision and inspection of a resident who is suspected of being under the influence of drugs. The routine includes checking the resident’s level of consciousness each time supervision is carried out. The staff on duty during the night did not have sufficient knowledge of the routine, and the resident’s level of consciousness was not checked. The Parliamentary Ombudsman states that the supervision of a resident suspected of being under the influence of drugs must be carried out so that the staff observes whether the resident’s status changes in such a way that there is reason to call a healthcare professional. The supervisory staff must therefore pay attention to signs that may indicate a serious health state, such as snoring. It also means that the staff must check the resident’s level of consciousness during the supervision. This was not done by the staff at the home. The supervision of the man therefore did not meet the requirements of thoroughness and care that apply to the supervision of a person who has been admitted for compulsory care at an LVM home and who is suspected of being under the influence of drugs. The National Board of Institutional Care is criticised for having failed in its supervision of the man and for not having ensured that the staff had the skills required to perform the important supervisory task that is part of this role.
Three arrested suspects in the same investigation were placed in police cells in Västerås. The prosecutor had decided on restrictions that, inter alia, related to the suspects’ right to be placed together with other prisoners and to be in common areas with other prisoners. The premises in the police cells were designed so that the suspects were able to communicate by shouting to each other. When the suspects shouted in a foreign language, the police suspected they were trying to coordinate their stories. According to the police, it was not possible to relocate any of the suspects. Instead, a prosecutor decided that the suspects should be informed that their conversation could be recorded if they continued to communicate in the cells. When the suspects continued to shout to each other, the police staff recorded the exchange with a dictaphone. Parts of the recorded material were referred to as evidence in court. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman states that it is an obvious starting point that the premises in facilities such as police cells must be sufficiently soundproofed and also otherwise designed so that unauthorised contact between inmates is prevented where possible. The Parliamentary Ombudsman’s investigation has not put focus on the design of the premises, but rather the Parliamentary Ombudsman points out that the current situation in the cells entails that the Police Authority must generally structure its operations so that suspects who could engage in unauthorised contact with each other on the premises, are not placed there at the same time. An audio recording of conversations between other individuals is, according to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, typically viewed as a sensitive measure in terms of privacy, and it is important that the party taking such a measure is fully aware of the legal grounds necessary for such a measure to be taken. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, restrictions that impose limitations on where a detainee may stay cannot be enforced by documenting conversations that are held contrary to the purpose of the restrictions. The Parliamentary Ombudsman also concludes that there needs to be legislative support for a measure that would entail the police recording a suspect for investigation purposes, especially when it is a suspect who is detained. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, there is no existing right that would allow the use of an audio recording to record what a suspect is saying while detained, unless it is in the context of questioning that suspect. There is therefore no legal grounds for recording the suspects’ conversations in the cells. The prosecutor is criticised for deciding that the suspects’ conversations should be recorded and for instructing the police to make recordings, even though there were no legal grounds for doing so.
Staff at preschools in Gothenburg wore shirts with the text “Förskoleupproret” [Preschool revolt] and badges with the text “STOPP färre barn NU! Lärarförbundet Göteborg” [STOP - fewer children NOW! Teachers’ Union Gothenburg]. The employer the City of Gothenburg advised the preschool directors to prohibit staff from wearing these shirts and badges. According to Chapter 2, Section 1 of the Instrument of Government, every citizen shall be guaranteed freedom of expression in their relations with the public institutions. The Parliamentary Ombudsman notes that the message on the shirts and badges does not conflict with any law. The textual content as well as the fact that the preschool staff is understood to perform their work in their private clothing further reinforces the impression that the messages constitute the staff’s personal views. There is no investigation that shows that the wearing of the shirts and badges has had any negative impact on the activities being pursued. In light of this, the Parliamentary Ombudsman concludes that the City of Gothenburg has not been justified in its restrictions regarding the staff’s attire. The city’s actions have thus constituted a violation of the staff’s constitutional freedom of expression. The Parliamentary Ombudsman directs criticism towards the city of Gothenburg.
The employer Partille Municipality did not allow staff members, during working hours, to wear shirts with the text “Förskoleupproret #pressatläge” [Preschool revolt #strainedsituation] and “Lärareffekten avgör, Lärarförbundet #lärareffekten” [The teacher effect is the decider, the Teachers’ Union #theteachereffect]. According to Chapter 2, Section 1 of the Instrument of Government, every citizen shall be guaranteed freedom of expression in their relations with the public institutions. The Parliamentary Ombudsman notes that the message on the shirts does not conflict with any law. The textual content as well as the fact that the staff is understood to perform their work in their private clothing further reinforces the impression that the messages constitute the staff’s personal views. There is no investigation that shows that the wearing of the shirts has had any negative impact on the activities being pursued. In light of this, the Parliamentary Ombudsman concludes that Partille Municipality has not been justified in its restrictions regarding the staff’s attire. The municipality’s actions have thus constituted a violation of the staff’s constitutional freedom of expression. The municipality is criticised.
In order to ensure that child pornography is not being brought into Sweden, Swedish Customs sometimes inspects the pictures on a mobile phone or a computer found on a person or in their luggage. In its decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman considers whether – and if so under what conditions – such an inspection is legal. A customs official may inspect a traveller’s luggage and, in accordance with Section 27, second paragraph of the Penalties for Smuggling Act, search an individual’s person if there is reason to assume that they are in possession of property that can be seized. The practice developed in regard to coercive measures regulated in the Code of Judicial Procedure should as a rule also be applied when the same coercive measures are applied pursuant to the Penalties for Smuggling Act. Even if the purpose of a body search pursuant to that act is to enable an effective means to control the entry of goods, it fundamentally remains a coercive measure for the purposes of criminal investigation. In accordance with the provisions on body searches in the Code of Judicial Procedure, the Parliamentary Ombudsman is therefore of the opinion that it should not be permitted to search the contents of an electronic device encountered during a body search in accordance with the Penalties for Smuggling Act without first confiscating the device. This conclusion is also supported by the circumstance that such a body search may be carried out on the basis of very weak suspicions of a crime. The Code of Judicial Procedure also contains provisions which mean that digital images etc. may only be investigated following a decision by the court or a head investigator. The aim of the provisions is to limit the circle of people who are allowed to investigate certain material, which may be sensitive to the individual’s integrity. The grounds of these provisions are also applicable to a body search in accordance with the Penalties for Smuggling Act. The conclusion of the Parliamentary Ombudsman is that the Swedish Customs does not have legal grounds to investigate the contents of an electronic device found on a traveller or in their luggage without the device being confiscated and a decision being made by the head investigator to examine its contents. The Parliamentary Ombudsman’s conclusions means that the scope for the Swedish Customs to control the entry of child pornography is very limited. The Parliamentary Ombudsman doubts that a legislative regulation of the practice applied by the Swedish Customs would be in compliance with the requirement set out in constitution and conventions for restrictions to the protection of private life to be proportional. It is the task of the legislator to assess whether the interests supporting such far-reaching powers are of sufficient weight. The Parliamentary Ombudsman is therefore submitting its decision to the Ministry of Justice for information purposes.
A person was transferred from a minimum security prison in Norway to a remand prison in Sweden, pending placement in a Swedish prison. When he arrived in Sweden, one year and three weeks remained of his sentence. Ten days after his arrival, the remand prison submitted a request to the Prison and Probation Service’s reception centre for the inmate to be investigated for the establishment of special conditions. He remained in the remand prison for 35 days before a place became available at the reception centre. After almost a month at the reception centre, the Prison and Probation Service decided that there was no grounds to issue a decision on special conditions for him. Shortly thereafter, he was placed in a security level 2 prison, but the placement decision was reviewed by the Prison and Probation Service due to, among other things, contacts with the prison in Norway, and he was finally placed in a minimum security prison. In the decision, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman directs criticism towards the Prison and Probation Service for the long remand period and for the fact that neither the remand prison nor the reception centre initially considered whether there was actually a need to investigate the matter of special conditions. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman is also critical of the slow processing time at the reception centre once the inmate had been transferred there and of the fact that the Section for International and Other Special Client Cases (SCK) did not take a decision in the matter of special conditions more rapidly. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman also finds that there may be reason for SCK to consider whether there is a need to implement special conditions in matters regarding transfer of execution of a sentence where it may be relevant. When it comes to the placement in a security level 2 prison, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman finds that, considering what has emerged regarding the previous execution of the inmate’s sentence, it appears that the placement entailed a more intrusive supervision and control than was necessary. The decision also considers under which conditions an inmate, who has served part of a prison sentence abroad and has thereafter been transferred to Sweden to continue serving their sentence here, can be temporarily placed in remand prison pending a decision regarding prison placement.
The Research Council’s Scientific Council for Medicine and Health has rejected an application for a research grant. The decision did not contain any information regarding what provisions the government authority had applied or which circumstances that had led to the decision. All in all, the decision did not fulfil the justification requirements set out in the Administrative Procedure Act. The Research Council receives criticism for its inadequate justification.
An interview was held with an injured party without the injured party’s counsel being present, even though the counsel had attempted to contact the head investigator before the interview. In its decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman states that it must be considered the obligation of the police to contact the counsel of an injured party before an interview, even if there is no explicit provision in this regard. The Parliamentary Ombudsman also states that it cannot be considered in line with the intention of the provisions regarding the right to an injured party’s counsel for the injured party’s position to determine whether an interview can be held without their counsel being present. This is particularly relevant in the case of a young injured party in a sensitive and vulnerable situation, who has not yet been in contact with their counsel. The Parliamentary Ombudsman also emphasises the importance of the police adhering to the directives of the prosecutor. The Parliamentary Ombudsman directs criticism towards the Police Authority for the shortcomings in its processing.
Upcoming visits to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen include a delegation from China and a delegation from France
Report from 2015–2017 including the themes: • information about rights• supervision• women deprived of their liberty,
A summary of the Annual Report for the fiscal year 2017/18 is now available for download on the web site.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen's overall statements for each supervisory area the year 2017/18.
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