Sweden is a destination and, to a lesser extent, source and transit country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking, and a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor, including forced begging and stealing.
Identified and suspected victims of sex trafficking largely originate from Eastern Europe, West Africa, Asia, and—to a lesser extent—Western Europe. Forced prostitution remains the most common form of trafficking in Sweden, although reported cases of labor trafficking are increasing. Identified and suspected victims of labor trafficking, who largely originate from Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, face exploitation in domestic service, hospitality, construction, agriculture, forestry, and as seasonal berry pickers.
Roma are vulnerable to forced begging and criminality and originate primarily from Romania and Bulgaria. The more than 162,000 migrants who applied for asylum in 2015, primarily from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and East Africa, are vulnerable to human trafficking.
Unaccompanied children are especially vulnerable; more than 35,000 unaccompanied foreign children applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015, primarily teenage boys from Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, and Eritrea. A study published in December found more than half of suspected child trafficking victims identified since 2012 arrived in Sweden as unaccompanied minors, primarily from Africa and Eastern Europe.
Police note street children, especially boys from Morocco, are vulnerable to child sex trafficking and forced criminality. A study found between 4,000 and 5,000 Swedes commit child sex tourism offenses abroad annually. Swedish women and girls are also vulnerable to sex trafficking within the country.
The Government of Sweden fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. During the reporting period, the government instituted a national mechanism to identify and refer victims to care and identified more victims. However, the European migration crisis overwhelmed government institutions, hindering authorities’ ability to conduct sufficient screenings of migrants to identify potential instances of trafficking.
The government demonstrated limited progress in law enforcement efforts. Sweden’s 2002 anti-trafficking law prohibits sex trafficking and forced labor and prescribes penalties of two to 10 years’ imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.
In June, the government initiated a legal review of its anti-trafficking law to strengthen prohibitions against, and punishments for, sex trafficking. Police investigated 58 sex trafficking cases in 2015 (including 11 child sex trafficking cases), compared with 31 in 2014. Authorities prosecuted and convicted two sex traffickers, compared with one prosecution and conviction in 2014. They were sentenced to 26 and 30 months’ imprisonment, fined 82,200 kronor ($9,736) each in damages, and will be deported following their prison terms.
The government increased efforts to identify and investigate cases of forced begging. Police investigated 122 cases of forced labor in 2015 (including 30 child forced labor cases), 55 of which were cases of forced begging, compared with 62 forced labor cases in 2014.
There were no prosecutions or convictions for labor trafficking in 2015.
The national anti-trafficking coordinator and national rapporteur noted the ongoing reorganization of the police hindered law enforcement efforts. Observers reported many judges continued to lack sufficient understanding of human trafficking, which may result in fewer convictions and less stringent sentences.
The national rapporteur conducted training for police and judges, and the prosecutor’s office and national rapporteur offered online training for prosecutors and national police, respectively. Swedish authorities collaborated with foreign governments on transnational investigations.
The government reported one ongoing investigation of a government official suspected of involvement in a trafficking-related corruption case; however, it did not report any prosecutions or conviction of government officials complicit in human trafficking. There were no reports of wider complicity in trafficking offenses among government officials.
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