Organised groups bring hundreds of people to Sweden every year. Photo: Leif R Jansson/Scanpix

Few human trafficking cases lead to conviction

Few who are charged with human trafficking offences are convicted, Swedish Radio News reports. In most recent cases the court ruled to acquit the suspect or convict them of less serious offences. The main problem, according to Thomas Ahlstrand, a prosecutor in Gothenburg, is that the victims often choose not to testify or that the court views their stories as less believable.

“These are people who might not have a family to support them. They have no relatives who like them or friends who are not going to sell them out,” he told Swedish Radio News.

In order for someone to be convicted of human trafficking, the prosecutor needs to prove that a series of events have taken place and that the goal was to take advantage of one or more individuals, explained fellow prosecutor Christina Voight.  

If a prosecutor fails to provide evidence for even one event in that chain, then a suspect will not be convicted of human trafficking.

Another reason for the small number of convictions is that human trafficking victims often cannot offer the kind of testimony that is conducive to a conviction, according to Voight and Ahlstrand.

“These are not perfect victims. They are not well educated, middle-class people, who can explain what has happened to them in a coherent way,” Ahlstrand said.


An investigation by Swedish Radio News into 32 human trafficking cases show that:

  • 19 of the cases where dismissed without leading to charges.
  • Seven were aquitted. In some cases the suspects have instead been convicted of lesser crimes.
  • Out of 32 cases 6 have lead to convictions.
Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
Du hittar dina sparade ljud i menyn under Min lista