Case Studies

Sweden: Violence in pre-trial detention


In Sweden there have been multiple cases that have been reported on in the press, illustrating examples of detainees becoming victims of violence. Three examples are covered below, but it is worth noting that these examples exist because of the video footage that was made available.

In one case a detainee was attacked by prison guards after being filmed spitting in an elevator.

In October 2016, the inmate was being moved from the detention centre in order to attend a hearing. He was placed in an elevator, to be met on another level by guards. The guards were able to see the detainee spitting against the elevator doors, and were ready to respond as soon as the doors opened again.

The video footage shows a guard push the detainee back into the elevator. The guards then forced the sweater off the detainee, and use it to clean up the spit.

The Prison Act states that “Every inmate must be treated with respect for his or her human dignity and with an understanding of the special difficulties associated with the detention”. Following the incident, it was found that the prison and probation service “seriously violated both the Prison and Probation Service’s rules of value and the penalties for negligence can therefore not stop at a warning”. The guard was deducted ten days’ salary for his actions.

In another case caught on camera, reported in January 2018, guards were caught on film assaulting a detainee during an internal transfer, after a police interrogation when he had arrived back to his detention centre.

The case again came to light thanks to video footage, which shows the guards using excessive force against the detainee. The case saw an internal investigation, in which the victim had the opportunity to explain that he felt threatened, in contrast to a number of the others giving evidence.

The prison guard primarily responsible was fined 25 days salary but kept his job.

In a third case captured on camera and reported on in March 2018, guards were again caught acting violently towards detainees a few months earlier The incident shows how a man in his 50s was beaten, pushed around, and had things thrown at him. The incident took place in Uppsala.

The primary antagonist from the footage was fired from his role, but there was no prosecution in the case.