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Sweden 2023

Civil disobedience activists continued to be subjected to harsh charges and sanctions. Sweden failed to take adequate action to decarbonize its economy. Access to healthcare continued to be an issue for vulnerable EU migrants. National legislation remained inadequate to protect Indigenous rights, such as to lands and free, prior and informed consent. Several legislative proposals targeted the rights of racialized communities, migrants and refugees.

Freedom of expression and assembly

Climate activists carrying out peaceful acts of civil disobedience continued to face harsh charges of sabotage, an offence punishable by imprisonment not used prior to 2022. Several activists were convicted of this offence, including one imprisoned in 2023.

In a response to numerous burnings of the Qur’an in 2023, the government announced it would review the Public Order Act to include threats to security when considering whether to grant a permit for a demonstration, or to cancel or disperse a public gathering. In October, for the first time, the district court of Linköping convicted a person of inciting racial hatred for burning a copy of the Qur’an.

Right to a healthy environment

Sweden failed to raise its climate ambition or to take adequate steps to phase out fossil fuels. According to the government’s own assessment, Sweden was on course to miss its short- and long-term environmental goals following the September climate budget, which made fossil fuels cheaper and slowed the renewable energy transition. In December, the government presented its four-year Climate Action Plan, which led to broad concerns about increased emissions and Sweden’s climate policy continuing to regress.

Right to health

Access to healthcare continued to be an issue for EU migrants living in destitution in Sweden, amid concerns that EU migrant parents were being billed for their children’s healthcare in breach of both national law and international obligations. In June, Amnesty International and Médecins du Monde – International submitted a collective complaint to the European Committee of Social Rights concerning EU migrants’ right to health and non-discrimination.

Indigenous Peoples’ rights

A parliamentary inquiry into Sámi hunting and fishing rights progressed with the publication of an interim report in August.  Concerns remained, however, about pressure on the Sámi traditional territory from extractive industries, as well as by renewable energy projects and climate change. National legislation remained inadequate to protect Indigenous rights, such as to lands and free, prior and informed consent.


Despite the national action plan to combat racism, several criminal justice measures aimed at combating crime risked discriminating against and violating the rights of racialized communities, refugees and migrants. New legislation extending the possible use of secret coercive measures such as digital surveillance, telephone tapping and data interception raised concerns that they would be used disproportionately against such groups. Other government initiatives risked amplifying racially discriminatory policing and systemic racial discrimination if adopted, such as a proposal to compel public servants to report undocumented people, including children, to the Migration Agency and police.