law and order

Court ruling halts deportation of prostitutes from EU

4:29 min

Police in Stockholm and Gothenburg will stop deporting EU-citizens who are working as prostitutes. At least for their first three months in the country. That is the result of a ruling in a Migration court in Western Sweden.

Marianne Paulsson, detective chief super intendent of the border police in Western Sweden is concerned this will give the green light to prostitution and trafficking.

"I am really afraid of that. It is a nasty way of earning money on girls. Because they are not keeping all the money, they are usually victims from trafficking," Paulsson says.

Last year, she and her colleagues in Western Sweden deported about 20 women because they had worked as prostitutes in Sweden. Some 15 of them were sent back to an EU country.

But a court ruling from earlier this year means that this number will dwindle - due to the freedom of movement within the EU.

The case, in the Migration court, concerns a thirty-year-old woman from an EU country. Police and migration authority had argued that - although prostitution is not illegal in Sweden, it is illegal to buy sex. And considering the woman earned her living from prostitution, someone else would have to commit a crime for her to be able to afford staying here. Thereby, her way of life meant a threat to law and order in Sweden. And according to Swedish law, a foreign national can be deported if it can be assumed that he or she will not make a living in an honest way.

In its ruling, the court agrees that prostitution cannot be deemed as making a living in an honest way. But because the woman is an EU citizen, it means that the union's directive on Freedom of Movement also has to be taken into account. And the Directive says that EU citizens have the right to spend three months in another EU country, unless their conduct pose "a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society".

The ruling notes that even though Swedish authorities work hard against trafficking and prostitution, the single woman's conduct cannot be deemed as a "sufficiently serious threat" against these interests.

Hence the decision by border police in Stockholm and Western Sweden that they will halt the deportation of all EU citizens who have been here less than three months and are working as prostitutes.

Marianne Paulsson at the border police in Gothenburg is aware that some may question why a woman who is working as a prostitute should be punished by deportation, since it is not illegal. "The point is not to punish them," she says, "The point is to make the life more difficult for those who profits on the, the traffickers".

But police in Southern Sweden do not deport anyone only because they are working as prostitutes. "It is morally wrong, but the buyers are often Swedish men, and we cannot deport Swedish men," says Leif Fransson, deputy chief of the border police in Skåne.

But it could be that the court ruling only has put a temporary halt to the deportations from Stockholm and Western Sweden, as it is only based on one case. Marianne Paulsson at the border police in Western Sweden is now hoping for a decision by the Justice Ombudsman, that would give a more general and a clearer guidance.