(Oct. 19, 2011) In a June 2011 decision, the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman sharply criticized the Stockholm Police Department for deporting 26 “beggars” of Romani ethnicity. (Allvarlig kritik mot Polismyndigheten i Stockholms län, som avvisat utlänningar med motiveringen att dessa ägnade sig åt tiggeri och dagdriver [Sharp Criticism of the Stockholm County Police Department for Deporting Aliens with the Justification That They Begged or Loitered] [the Ombudsman's decision], Riksdagens ombudsmän – JO, Diarienummer 6340-2010 (June 28, 2011), http://www.jo.se/Page.aspx?MenuId=106&MainMenuId=106&Language=sv&ObjectClass=DynamX_SFS_Decision&Id=5503.) The Stockholm Police Department had based its deportation decision on the Swedish Alien Act (8 ch. 2 § 2 Utlänningslag (Svensk författningssamling [SFS] 2005:716, http://www.riksdagen.se/webbnav/index.aspx?nid=3911&bet=2005:716#K8), which allows deportation of an alien if “it can be assumed that he or she … will not be able to provide for [him or herself] in an honest manner.” The Ombudsman found that when the Act was first introduced, begging and loitering were still crimes, but now that they no longer are, the Police Department's application of the Act was outdated. (Id.)
Although nothing indicates that the deportation was made in a discriminatory manner or was based on the deportees national heritage or culture, the decision to deport was made in a manner that “sought to disturb [public] confidence in the [Swedish] police's ability to live up to the constitutional requirement that government agencies in their activities shall observe everyone's equality before the law as well as act objectively and impartially,” the Ombudsman said, referencing chapter 1, paragraph 9, of the Swedish Constitution. (Proclamation 1974/152 [in Swedish], Sveriges Riksdag [Swedish Parliament] website (last visited Oct. 12, 2011).)
The Ombudmsan's decision and a decision by the Migration Court that EU prostitutes cannot be deported from Sweden during the first three months of their stay may inspire further investigation into when and how EU citizens are deported from Sweden. (Avvisning av prostituerade EU-medborgare hejdas [Deportation of Prostitutes Who Are EU Citizens Stopped], SVERIGES RADIO (Oct. 11, 2011).) According to EU law, EU citizens have the right to be present in any member country for three months without any additional documentation other than a driver's license. Swedish police have deported both prostitutes and beggars under the legal provision which, as was noted above, provides that aliens who make a living in Sweden in a “dishonest manner” are deportable, or under a provision that allows for deportation when the foreigner is a threat to public morals and order. (Swedish Alien Act, 8 ch. 2 § 2 & 8 ch. 7a § 1.)
In light of the criticism by the Ombudsman, which emphasized that beggary is not in itself a crime in Sweden, it is expected that prostitutes will receive equivalent treatment, considering that prostitution is also not a crime in Sweden (although the purchase of sexual acts is). The Migration Court's decision will be applied narrowly, however, and will only change the police procedures regarding EU citizens. In a comment following the decision, the Swedish police stated that they will continue to deport non-EU citizens who come to Sweden to work as prostitutes. (EU-prostituerade får jobba tre månader i Sverige [EU-Prostitutes Allowed to Work for Three Months in Sweden], DN.SE (Oct. 11, 2011).)
Thus far the Ombudsman has not commented on the deportation of prostitutes, but Jens Västerberg, Executive Officer at the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, stated that “if examined closely [the Swedish police departments] can get some guidance [from the decision on beggars].” (Avvisning av prostituerade EU-medborgarehejdas, supra.) Västerberg pointed in particular to the Swedish government bill that was applied in analyzing the beggar's situation, which, he stated, should also be used to determine the status of prostitutes from elsewhere in the EU. (Id.)
Prepared by Elin Hofverberg, Law Library Intern, under the guidance of Edith Palmer, Chief, Foreign, Comparative and International Law (FCIL) II. Ms. Hofverberg has a Jur. kand. (Master of Laws) from Uppsala University. She recently earned an LL.M. in International and Comparative Law from The George Washington University Law School.