Sweden | Freedom House

Freedom in the World

Freedom in the World 2017



Freedom Status: 

Freedom in the World Scores

(1=Most Free, 7=Least Free)

Quick Facts

Press Freedom Status: 

Sweden is a parliamentary monarchy with free and fair elections and a strong multiparty system. Civil liberties and political rights are legally guaranteed and respected in practice, and the rule of law prevails.

Key Developments: 
  • Reports published during the year indicated an uptick in violence by nonstate actors, including car fires and assaults against security personnel, and analysts pointed to social segregation and greater inequality as contributing factors.
  • The government continued dealing with the consequences of an unprecedented influx of asylum seekers, and aligned national asylum regulations with the minimum standards set by the European Union (EU).
  • In June, a court found the Swedish state guilty of discrimination in a case involving a register of Roma individuals maintained by police in Skåne, the country’s southernmost county.
Executive Summary: 

An unprecedented influx of asylum seekers in 2015 led to political tensions as well as a strain on government resources, both of which persisted through 2016. Although Sweden’s asylum and immigration policies had been among the most liberal in the EU, this influx led to a number of reversals in both policies and attitudes, and in 2016, officials aligned asylum regulations with the minimum standards set by the EU.

Sweden remains a country where civil and political freedoms are strongly protected by law and in practice, but a number of civil liberties issues unfolded in 2016. In June, a 2013 scandal—in which the Skåne police department was found to maintain a registry of individuals of Roma heritage—made headlines again. That month, in a case brought by 11 individuals who had appeared on the list, the Stockholm district court found that the Swedish state was guilt of ethnic discrimination. The state appealed, and the case was ongoing at year’s end. In its most recent periodic review of Sweden, concluded in 2015, the United Nations largely applauded the government but noted the need to better address discrimination against Roma people, and also criticized the use of lengthy detention periods and the lack of robust mechanisms against human trafficking.

Acts of violence by nonstate actors, particularly car fires and attacks against public safety officers, remained a concern in 2016. In July and August alone, there were more than 70 car fires in the city of Malmö. Experts pointed to social segregation and greater inequality as contributing factors to these issues. 

Explanatory Note: 

This country report has been abridged for Freedom in the World 2017. For background information on political rights and civil liberties in Sweden, see Freedom in the World 2016.

Aggregate Score: 
Freedom Rating: 
Political Rights: 
Civil Liberties: 

Report Navigation


Country Reports