9 September 2022
In 2020, the Convention on the Rights of the Child became Swedish law. Are the children's rights met in practice when it comes to LVU cases where children are forcibly taken into custody? In the balance between the different interests, assessments can be difficult and situations sensitive. With the background of criticism brought forward by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, this report investigates how children's rights are met within the framework of LVU cases. In-depth interviews with professional lawyers have been conducted together with a thematic analysis of 48 legal cases in administrative courts and courts of appeal in Sweden.
In recent years, this subject has gained attention and is still discussed in various contexts. The "Lilla Hjärtat" case touched, and stirred up emotions, which led to changes in the law (lex Lilla Hjärtat). The Parliamentary Ombudsmen for Justice has investigated how the Social Service handles cases of restriction of access according to the LVU, and criticizes the Social Service for not sufficiently considering the child's best interests and the child's participation. Furthermore, LVU has become the subject of discussions in political contexts where, for example, the Nyans party talks about "LVU abuse" and the Moderaterna describes LVU as a tool for combating gang crime. In addition, there have been reports of disinformation campaigns against Social Services.
Based on criticism from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the report aims to examine the rights of children and parents in the event of compulsory detention according to the LVU.
Human trafficking is a violation of human rights and a violation of human dignity and integrity. The UN agency UNICEF estimates that as many as 1.2 million children are trafficked every year. According to the European Commission, traveling and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are considered to be at a great risk of being exposed to trafficking and exploitation in Sweden. Between 2013–2016, there were indications that more than 1,500 unaccompanied children had disappeared in Sweden and that most were probably children from countries of origin such as Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. According to the 2018 Gender Equality Agency’s report on children in human trafficking, it was reveled that 57 of 262 reported human trafficking cases were children and that 18 were accompanying children to asylum-seeking adults. According to the European Commission, however, it is likely that human trafficking in children in Sweden is greater than the statistics show because many potential victims do not come to the attention of the authorities at all. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN agency UNODC has drawn attention to the increased number of victims of human trafficking and the fact that children are increasingly affected.
This report will focus on how legal protection under international conventions, especially the Council of Europe Convention, works in practice in Sweden. Is the Council of Europe Convention followed or does Sweden violate international obligations? In the introductory chapter, a Swedish child rights perspective on child trafficking is presented by the child rights expert, Doctorate (SJD) Harvard Law School and Professor of Law at Leeds Law School, Maria Grahn Farley. The following chapter presents the results of in-depth interviews with representatives of authorities, civil society, sheltered housing and other actors working against human trafficking. This qualitative survey provides an insight into how well Sweden maintains the Council of Europe Convention against human trafficking, with a special focus on children’s rights.