Lawsuit Against the Swedish State

This Friday, on 10 June 2016, the Stockholm District Court will announce its ruling in the case of the ethnic register set up by the Skåne police. Civil Rights Defenders acts as legal representatives for 11 individuals from the Roma community whose personal information was registered by the police. We have not received any explanation as to why these individuals are included in the register, nor have we got any reason to believe that they were registered for reasons other than their ethnic origin. The ruling this Friday follows the main hearing which was held between 25-26 May.

On 5 March 2015, Civil Rights Defenders filed a lawsuit against the Swedish State with the Stockholm District Court. We consequently believe that it is irrelevant to claim that the register as a whole has been set up merely as part of police law enforcement activities. Our conviction is that these individuals have been subjected to discrimination and that the register constitutes a case of ethnic profiling. On this basis our clients deserve redress.

The State justifies its argument by stating that the register was established “to meet the needs of police law enforcement activities” and not to map ethnicity of individuals. However, the State does not explain why our clients – who have no criminal background and of whom three are minors – have been registered. Moreover, the State does not question that our clients have no criminal connections and that they have not been suspected of committing any crimes.


In September 2013, 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.

Later that year, in November, 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 have sued the state.

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