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 Committee on Planning and Community Development was in charge of supervising a company. A committee official informed the company that a newspaper had requested documents about the company. The official also inquired whether the company would like to receive the documents that the newspaper had requested and subsequently sent the documents to the company. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the official’s actions can not be perceived in any other way than as a warning to the company that a review of its business activities had been initiated. Therefore, the Parliamentary Ombudsman finds that the official’s actions were inappropriate in accordance of the interests supporting the Swedish Principle of Public Access. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, these actions can also be subject to scrutiny in compliance to the statutory requirement on impartiality. The Committee on Planning and Community Development is responsible for ensuring that its staff members are aware of the regulations governing their actions. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards the committee for the incident.
An inmate was subjected to violence at the hands of a fellow inmate at one of Salberga facility’s cellblocks. At the time of the violent incident, preparations were being made for out-of-cell time for inmates in another block. For security reasons, the facility had prioritised staffing in that division. For the same reason, releases for out-of-cell time were also prioritised in terms of camera surveillance resources. During a few minutes, there were no staff dedicated to the entire floor of the building, rather, the only staff assigned to the block were performing rounds between the floors. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman states that the Swedish Prison and Probation Service’s duties include protecting inmates from threats and violence perpetrated by other inmates. The investigation does not, however, show that the circumstances were such that the facility should have realized that there was a real and immediate risk that a fellow inmate would be subjected to violence if the block was left unattended during the very limited time when the time-out-of-cell release was carried out. Taking all factors into account, the Parliamentary Ombudsman finds no reason to criticise the facility or to make further statements on the matter.
In response to a series of Opcat inspections of the Swedish Prison and Probation Service’s women’s prison facilities that revealed a number of areas where the treatment of female and male inmates appears to place female inmates at a disadvantage. An enquiry was initiated to further investigate, inter alia, the risk assessment team’s (Riksmottagningen) activities and the potential outcomes of currently available opportunities for differentiating the treatment of women within the Swedish Prison and Probation Service’s facilities. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman states that the Swedish Prison and Probation Service has failed to offer equal correctional opportunities for men and women, and finds that women, in many respects, are being disadvantaged by the existing regulations as well as by the restrictions in the facility’s physical environment and enforcement conditions. The Parliamentary Ombudsman maintains that even though she understands that the low number of female inmates constitutes a challenge for authorities, it is not acceptable for female inmates to be subject to enforcement that is inferior to that for male inmates. Female inmates undergo a closer examination than male inmates during the risk assessment. The Parliamentary Ombudsman states that, in and of itself, this is a positive for improving the chances that an individual will have access to personalised enforcement, but instead, a lack of resources leads to delay and deterioration in enforcement conditions for many inmates. The Parliamentary Ombudsman states that it is not acceptable for a group of inmates, for which the Swedish Prison and Probation Service has identified as having particularly complex needs meriting further investigation, is instead subject to poor enforcement conditions due to a lack of investigative resources. The Parliamentary Ombudsman therefore calls into question if, under the current conditions, the special provisions for female inmates are justified. Further, the Parliamentary Ombudsman states that there is a clear need for increased options to differentiate the treatment of female inmates in the correctional system. The Parliamentary Ombudsman therefore calls on the authority that oversees security classification for female facilities to prioritise efforts to create increased opportunity to differentiate the treatment of female inmates. The Swedish Prison and Probation Service also needs to prioritise the development of customised facilities and treatment efforts based on female inmates’ unique needs. The Parliamentary Ombudsman states that changes need to be made in the Swedish Prison and Probation Service’s operations so that the authority will be able to offer equal correctional opportunities for women and men and so that it succeeds in its task of meeting women’s individual needs and facilitates their reintegration into society. The Parliamentary Ombudsman welcomes the authority’s efforts in starting several initiatives and reviews concerning issues that are relevant to the case. The Parliamentary Ombudsman intends to monitor and follow up on these issues.
In the context of a dispute regarding visiting rights, the court requested that the Social Welfare Board submit a so-called rapid information inquiry to the court. Before the Social Welfare Board provides such information they shall, when appropriate, consult with the parents of the child. The Social Services attempted to contact the mother by phone in response to the court’s request. The mother did not answer, and the social secretary therefore sent her a text message. The Parliamentary Ombudsman states that there are particular risks, e.g. risks to confidentiality, in using text messages for individual communication, and directs criticism towards the case officer that decided to contact the mother in this manner.
The Swedish Social Insurance Agency filed an appeal in a case concerning sickness compensation with the Administrative Court in Stockholm. The Administrative Court initiated proceedings via an exchange of letters. Approximately five months later, the Administrative Court decided to send the case documents to the Administrative Court in Malmö. In its reasoning, the Administrative Court in Stockholm stated that it did not have jurisdiction for the appeal, but the Administrative Court in Malmö did have jurisdiction. The Parliamentary Ombudsman directs criticism towards the Administrative Court for having failed in the verification of the court's jurisdiction, which must be performed when a case is received by the court. The Parliamentary Ombudsman further states that since the Administrative Court in Stockholm had initiated proceedings in the case, there was no legal basis for handing the case documents over to the Administrative Court in Malmö. Instead, the Administrative Court in Stockholm should have dismissed the appeal. The Swedish Social Insurance Agency’s obligation to submit an appeal to the administrative court with jurisdiction would thereby have been re-established. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards the judge who issued the faulty appeal.
A headmaster sent information to the students’ guardians. The information in question concerned students that are seeking asylum in Sweden and contained the headmaster’s personal views regarding the asylum procedure and the decisions made in that process. The headmaster received criticism by the Parliamentary Ombudsmen as these issues are not in compliance with the requirement for impartiality.
A judge at Västmanland’s District Court failed to provide a notification of judgements within the prescribed time limits, in four cases. During the spring of 2017, he postponed the notification of judgements on 18 separate occasions which resulted in the judgements being notified between two and a half weeks to almost two months after the main hearing. The judgements included a custody case and two criminal cases with detained persons. In a decision on 26 September 2017, the Parliamentary Ombudsman assessed that the judge had breached his obligations in a manner that constituted misconduct and handed the question of disciplinary action over to the Government Disciplinary Board for Higher Officials. In a decision on 5 December 2017, the Disciplinary Board issued a warning to the judge. The Disciplinary Board assessed that it was not acceptable to repeatedly move the day of a judgement notification in the manner that the judge had done for three of the cases. The judge had therefore deliberately been in breach of his obligations in such a manner that misconduct existed. The Disciplinary Board’s decision is final, and the Parliamentary Ombudsman thereby closed the case
At Hällby facility, which is a facility for male inmates, there is a camera in the room where the inmates change clothes, are frisked and undergo a superficial body inspection before visitation. The report stated that the inmates felt violated standing fully unclothed in front of a camera, not knowing who is viewing the screen in the facility's central security room. In the decision, Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman states that she finds that what the Swedish Prison and Probation Service reports concerning video surveillance constitutes a legitimate purpose as referenced in § 23 of the Video Surveillance Act, and that these purposes weigh heavier than the individual's interest in not being monitored. However, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman considers that, as far as possible, only male staff should be able to view surveillance of inmates via a monitor.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen's overall statements for each supervisory area the year 2016/17.
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