Trial Against Nazis Begins in the Court of Appeal, Sweden
The trial against 15 people connected to the Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR), a Swedish Nazi organisation, begins today in The Court of Appeal for Western Sweden in Gothenburg. They stand accused of agitation against ethnic minority groups following their participation in a Nazi protest held in Gothenburg in 2017.
Civil Rights Defenders argues that NMR’s expressions of Nazism during the protest constitute illegal agitation, and we therefore filed a police report against several of the Nazis who are now on trial.
“NMR’s activities are carried out at the expense of other people’s rights. They scare both organisations and individuals into silence. That’s why it’s important that they are held accountable for their criminal acts”, said John Stauffer, Legal Director at Civil Rights Defenders.
Need for a Broader Interpretation of Hate Crime Legislation
The indictment is largely based on Civil Rights Defenders’ line of reasoning on how the law which proscribes hate crime of agitation against ethnic minority groups should be interpreted.
Civil Rights Defenders argues that the traditional interpretation of current legislation is too narrow, since an explicit connection to Nazi Germany, such as the swastika and Nazi salute, must be proved in order to convict someone of illegal agitation.
“Authorities must start using a broader interpretation of the hate crime of agitation against ethnic minority groups. For the law to continue to be relevant, even contemporary forms of Nazi expressions should be seen as hate crime. This includes clothes, symbols, and other expressions connected to the NMR”, said John Stauffer.
The Law must Provide Effective Protection
The appellate court’s judgement will guide the future work of the police and prosecutors in cases linked to agitation against ethnic minorities.
“Sweden needs legislation that limit racist acts and provides effective protection against hate crimes and agitation against ethnic minority groups”, said John Stauffer.
The Nazis on trial were freed of charges in the Gothenburg District Court. If the Court of Appeal comes to the same conclusion, Civil Rights Defenders argues that Sweden needs stronger laws against hate crimes so that contemporary symbols and expressions of Nazism constitutes agitation against ethnic minority groups.
- Are you interested in knowing more about what has happened since the 2017 demonstration in Gothenburg? Find more information here.
- Would you like to know more about the trial? Read more here.
- Civil Rights Defenders filed a police report against several high-ranking NMR members after the demonstration in Gothenburg on 30 September 2017. Read more here (in Swedish).
- On 15 September 2017, Civil Rights Defenders appealed the demonstration permit that allowed the NMR to organise their march in Gothenburg. The route was subsequently changed and shortened. Read more here (in Swedish).
About the Nordic Resistance Movement
The Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) is a Swedish Nazi organisation. It bases its activities on a violent and non-democratic ideology. NMR calls for violence against ethnic, religious, sexual and gender minorities. Historically, such agitation has been closely linked to violence, persecution and even genocide being committed against minority groups.