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Swedish judicial system and remand facilities

18 Jul 2019

Due to the considerable interest in the Swedish judicial system and remand facilities, information is provided below.

Detainees in remand facilities without restrictions may associate with other inmates for up to five hours each day. They may watch television, listen to the radio and borrow library books. They may also apply to receive visits and, following an assessment by the Swedish Prison and Probation Service based on current legislation, make telephone calls. They may contact their legal representative and meet a member of the clergy. They may spend one hour per day outdoors. Häktet Kronoberg has recently been renovated and is one of Sweden's most modern remand facilities (see photo below).

Source: Swedish Prison and Probation Service

Additional information on the Swedish judicial system and remand facilities:

 

Remand

Being on remand means waiting for a trial or a place in prison or an institution, waiting for an investigation to be completed or waiting for deportation.

Remand prison is a custody facility for persons who have been apprehended or arrested for a crime, for asylum-seekers awaiting deportation and for substance abusers or mentally ill persons waiting to be placed in an institution. People arrested for escaping or breaching their probation are also placed in remand prisons.

A remand order is issued when a person is suspected of a crime which carries a sentence of at least one year. One of the following three conditions must also apply:

  • risk of absconding,
  • risk of an investigation being impeded,
  • risk of continued criminal activity.

A remand order must be issued irrespective of the nature of the crime if the suspect is unknown and refuses to provide a name and address or is not a resident of Sweden. A remand order must be issued if the expected minimum sentence is longer than two years and there is no obvious reason why a remand order should not be issued.

There is no legislation limiting time on remand although charges should be brought within two weeks. If not, there will be a new remand hearing.

Alternatives to remand are supervision, a travel ban and a reporting order.
The information is taken from Kriminalvården.

The Swedish judicial system

The aim of the Swedish judicial system is to ensure the rule of law and legal security for individuals. The 'rule of law' means that the administration of justice and other exercise of public authority must be predictable and consistent, and must be conducted to a high standard. 'Legal security' means that private individuals and other legal entities must be protected from criminal attacks on life, health, freedom, integrity and property. It is crucial that the judicial system, together with society as a whole, works to prevent and combat crime, and to support those who have been victims of crime.

The role of the Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice may not interfere with the way a government agency applies a law or takes a decision in a specific case in its exercise of public authority. In many other countries, it is common for an individual minister to have the power to intervene directly through a decision on an agency's day-to-day operations. In Sweden, the Instrument of Government – one of our fundamental laws – prohibits this, and is commonly called 'ministerial rule'. Over and above the general regulations on financial governance and on the powers and obligations of agencies, the Government sets the terms for each agency's activities.

Within the Government Offices, the Ministry of Justice has the primary responsibility for matters relating to the judicial system, including the budgets and administration of the government agencies. The Ministry of Justice is also responsible for core legislation in the fields of civil law, criminal law and procedural law.

The role of the prosecutor

The prosecutor has a central role in the judicial system, which consists of three main tasks: to investigate crime, to decide whether or not to instigate legal proceedings and to represent the State in court. When there is reason to assume that a crime has been committed, a preliminary investigation is initiated. If there are good grounds for suspecting someone of a crime, the prosecutor leads the preliminary investigation. The investigation is conducted by the Swedish Police. The prosecutor constantly follows the investigation and takes decisions as to the measures and decisions that are necessary. In less complicated cases, or until a specific person can be suspected of a crime, the Swedish Police can lead the preliminary investigation. A preliminary investigation is discontinued if there are no grounds to continue investigating the suspected crime, for example if there is insufficient evidence. When a preliminary investigation has been completed, the prosecutor takes the decision on whether to institute proceedings.

Another important aspect of the prosecutor's work is to represent the State in criminal proceedings in court. Through the decision to prosecute and the description of the crime, the prosecutor sets the framework for the criminal proceedings in court.
For more information, see https://www.aklagare.se/en

The task of the courts

Having one's case heard by an impartial court is a fundamental right. The task of the courts is to decide in cases and matters efficiently and to a high standard. The Instrument of Government specifies that the courts have independent status. This means that neither the Riksdag, the Government nor any government agency may determine how a court is to rule in an individual case. The provisions on public access to official information in the Instrument of Government and the Freedom of the Press Act serve to guarantee that the public has insight into the administration of justice. This means that in general, the public has access to hearings and other meetings of the court and has the right to access documents pertaining to a specific case or matter. However, to protect individuals and the public, this insight may in some cases be restricted by secrecy.

The mission of the Police

The mission of the Police is to reduce crime and increase people's security. The duties of the police are primarily regulated in the Police Act, where it states that the Swedish Police Authority is to prevent and detect crime, maintain public order and safety, and investigate crime. The Swedish Police Authority also has many other duties specified in special provisions. Examples of such duties are judicial assistance to other agencies and various licensing issues, such as firearms licences.

Tasks of the Swedish Prison and Probation Service

The Swedish Prison and Probation Service is responsible for activities at the country's correctional facilities, remand centres and probation service offices. The Service is to operate detention facilities and enforce sentences in a secure, humane and efficient manner, and work to reduce the number of repeat offences. The Swedish Prison and Probation Service is also responsible for transporting detainees and presentence investigation reports in criminal cases.

Remand centres

There are 31 remand centres in Sweden with approximately 2 000 places. People suspected of offences and who have been detained by a court while awaiting trial are held at remand centres.

The provisions relate to certain basic rights, visits and other contact with the outside world, health and medical care, etc.
For more information, see https://www.kriminalvarden.se/swedish-prison-and-probation-service/

Supervision of public authorities

It is very important that authorities comply with laws and ordinances to maintain confidence in the public administration, and ultimately in democracy. The possibility for citizens to appeal decisions by public authorities to an administrative court means that the court can examine how an authority has applied the rules. As a result of the judicial examination, a practice is also established for the authorities. There is also reason to exercise supervision of the way authorities carry out their duties. This supervision is carried out by the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, the Chancellor of Justice and the central administrative authorities.

More information on the Swedish judical system is available here: https://www.government.se/information-material/2015/06/the-swedish-judicial-system/

Last updated 18 Jul 2019, 11.01 AM