We are Suing the Swedish State for the Police Register of Roma

On 5 March Civil Rights Defenders files suit against the Swedish state for violations of human rights. We represent eight adults and three children from the 4700 Roma individuals who were originally registered by the Skåne police. We are convinced that they were in the register merely because of their ethnic origin. This, however, is not the reason why the register has been declared illegal.

In order to demonstrate that the police register constitutes a case of ethnic registration, we file suit the Swedish state. We also claim that the 5000 SEK (approximately 500 EUR) that have been awarded to the victims as monetary compensation is far from adequate.

We demand that the state take responsibility for the register and grant the affected individuals adequate redress.


Almost 1,5 years ago, the Swedish broadsheet Dagens Nyheter revealed that the police administration in Skåne kept a register consisting of Roma individuals. It contained the names of approximately 4700 individuals of whom the great majority were Roma or people married to Roma. One thousand of these were minors and two hundred were already deceased. Many others lived in other parts of Sweden and were not even residing in Skåne.

In November 2013, the Swedish Commission on Security and Integrity Protection stated that the police register was illegal. It pointed out that the purpose of the register was too vague; that too many people within the police had access to it; and that the individuals’ connections to suspected criminality were spurious.

What the Swedish Commission on Security and Integrity Protection did not do, however, was to acknowledge that the individuals had been registered on the basis of their ethnic origin. Instead, it claimed that the reason as to why these individuals had been registered was kinship, however distant, with people with criminal connections. The conclusion consequently specified that it was not merely a register based on ethnicity.

Based on the judgement from the Swedish Commission on Security and Integrity Protection, the Chancellor of Justice subsequently decided that every individual who had been registered by the police had the right to 5000 SEK in monetary compensation – regardless of previous criminal records. This means that:

  • None of the legal authorities thus far have analysed if the register constitutes a case of ethnic discrimination.
  • The monetary compensation has not been calculated on the basis that the people listed in the register have been subjected to ethnic discrimination.

The individuals who have sought an explanation as to why their names are in the register have been left without an explanation.

Civil Rights Defenders claims that the police register of Roma constitutes an act of discrimination on ethnic grounds. Therefore, we will sue the state.

Our case

We want to bring to the Courts the ethnic aspect of the register based on Swedish legislation, the Swedish Constitution, and the European Convention on Human Rights. None of the eleven individuals that we represent have any connections to criminal activity. Three are minors. All of them live in Stockholm. We claim that they ended up in the police register in Skåne as a result of their ethnic origin.

If we do not succeed in the Swedish Courts, we will appeal to Strasbourg and have the register tried before the European Court of Human Rights. It could then potentially take up to ten years before this matter is finally settled.

Read more: Q&A: Lawsuit against the Swedish State