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Sweden mulls using hate crime laws to counter neo-Nazis

Published onsdag 11 oktober kl 16.52
Justice Minister Morgan Johansson and Culture Minister Alice Bah Kuhnke  meet journalists after the cross-party talks.
Justice Minister Morgan Johansson and Culture Minister Alice Bah Kuhnke meet journalists after the cross-party talks. Credit: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Sweden's government has floated the idea of reinterpreting existing hate crime and public order laws to counter neo-Nazi extremists.

Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said that Sweden's existing hate crime law could be reinterpreted to prevent extremists marching bearing a wider range of symbols used by the extreme right. 

The proposal was one of a list of possible measures put forward at a meeting with four opposition parties on how to counter "anti-democratic forces" in the country. 

Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said that the government would also instruct the police and security services to intensify their work against extremist groups.

"Then it's a question of applying the laws that already exist," he said. "We are saying: now you should apply all the resources you need to bring those individuals we're talking about under control."

Johansson led the meeting together with Alice Bah Kuhnke, Sweden's culture minister, who represents the Green Party, discussing the government proposals with the opposition Moderate, Liberal, Centre and Christian Democrat parties. 

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats were not invited. 

A representative from Sweden's security service Säpo was also at the meeting to brief those present on different groups of extremists in Sweden.

In the meeting, the government said it would order an analysis of Sweden's law on hate crimes, enacted in 1948, partially in response to the Swedish anti-semite Einar Gustaf Vilhelm Åberg, who was jailed nine times between 1941 and 1945 for his anti-semitic propaganda.

It would also analyse the country's public order law to see if it gives police the power to better control the time and location of extreme-right demonstations, and forbid the use of riot shields.

Roger Haddad, who attended the meeting for the Liberal Party, said he worried that the proposals might run counter to the Swedish constitution.

"The government says that we don't need to look at the constitution, but a lot of these proposals are very connected to rights protected in the constitution, such as the right to free assembly," he said. "We want to raise the warning flag."

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