The Council of Europe’s expert group against human trafficking (GRETA) publishes today its second evaluation report on Sweden. The report assesses developments since the publication of GRETA’s first evaluation report on Sweden in May 2014 as regards the implementation of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.
According to the report, Sweden has made progress in a number of areas, in particular the development of the legal framework for combating human trafficking, the setting up of specialised anti-trafficking police units and the establishment of the National Support Programme which allows presumed victims of trafficking to receive assistance through the Platform Swedish Society against Human Trafficking. The adoption of a new National Action Plan to protect children from human trafficking, exploitation and sexual abuse, as well as a new National Action Plan against prostitution and trafficking in human beings, are welcome developments. However, they focus on sexual exploitation and therefore not all forms of human trafficking are sufficiently addressed. GRETA asks the Swedish authorities to ensure that the new Gender Equality Agency, which has taken over the co-ordination of action against human trafficking in Sweden since the beginning of 2018, effectively addresses all forms of trafficking in human beings, both in terms of combatting them and assisting victims.
GRETA also urges the authorities to intensify their efforts to prevent and combat trafficking in children through raising awareness about the risks and different manifestations of child trafficking, including trafficking for the purpose of forced criminality, forced begging and forced marriage. Further, Sweden should strengthen its efforts to prevent unaccompanied and separated migrant and asylum-seeking children from going missing from care, including by timely appointment of guardians and adequate resourcing of the guardianship system, as well as reviewing the restrictions on family reunifications.
In the report GRETA urges the police, labour inspectors and other relevant actors to adopt a more proactive approach and increase their work to identify potential victims of trafficking. Formal identification as a victim of trafficking and the provision of assistance should not be made conditional on the person’s co-operation in the investigation or the initiation of criminal proceedings.
The report notes that the number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions in human trafficking cases remains low. In particular, the near absence of convictions for human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation and child trafficking is a concern and GRETA urges the Swedish authorities to take measures to ensure that all human trafficking offences are investigated and prosecuted effectively.