The Swedish legal system focuses on protecting the rights of victims of human trafficking. Trafficked or prostituted persons are viewed as victims. They are not criminalised and will not be subject to criminal investigation or proceedings as a result of being trafficked or prostituted.
In Sweden, prostitution is regarded as an aspect of violence against people. Selling sexual services is not an offence in Sweden but buying sex is a criminal offence, it is forbidden on penalty of a fine or up to six months’ imprisonment. Swedish Penal Code: Chapter 6, Section 11 – Section 12
Assistance is provided by state and municipal institutions in close cooperation with civil society organisations. The national telephone support line for women 020-50 50 50 can inform you about opening hours and addresses of different services.
Since 2006, victims of human trafficking are entitled to a reflection period of 30 days and may be granted a temporary residence permit to cooperate with a preliminary investigation or a main hearing in a criminal case. For further information on temporary residence permits: Swedish Aliens Act: Chapter 5
Prosecution of the Traffickers
Trafficking in human beings for all forms of exploitation has been criminalised in Sweden. Criminal liability applies to anyone who through the use of unlawful coercion or deception, by exploiting a person’s vulnerability or by any other similar improper means recruits, transports, harbours, receives or takes other similar actions towards a person and thereby gains control over that person, for the purpose of exploitation. The traffickers risk being sentenced to between two and ten years imprisonment if found guilty. For further information: Swedish Penal Code: Chapter 4, Section 1a
Swedish legislation in this area is based on the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, known as the Palermo Protocol, which defines human trafficking as:
the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
Article 3a of the Palermo Protocol
For further information: United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols