En vakt i korridoren på Kronobergshäktet i Stockholm
En vakt i korridoren på Kronobergshäktet i Stockholm. Foto: Gunnar Lundmark / SvD / TT

Isolation in custody common for those awaiting trial

Sweden has been criticized once again for the way it treats suspected criminals, while they're in custody, and a recent survey by the Swedish Prison and Probation Service found that about half of these suspects in custody are held in conditions where they have hardly any contact with other people.

The survey found that of 2,895 people, half of whose in custody, either had restrictions or a decision from the prison services that meant they were severely restricted in terms of their ability to have human contact. 

At the end of last month, the UN Committee against Torture listed a series of problems it had observed within the Swedish detention system, including "restrictions on remand prisoners; excessive length of pre-trial detention; wide use of solitary confinement."

The head lawyer for the prison and probation service tells Swedish Radio News that the long term goal is that no one should have to be isolated, and that instead, everyone should get at least two hours of human contact a day.

One woman who was in custody for 556 days and was later acquitted of suspicions that she had been laundering drug money, has now demanded SEK 7 million in damages from the Office of the Chancellor of Justice.

She had no visitors for a year-and-a-half, according to SVT, and she lived in a cell that was 8 meters square.

"I was isolated for 23 hours a day and got to visit a cage for recess for about 45 minutes a day," she told Swedish Television News. "It was pure torture."

She was eventually convicted of serious bookkeeping crimes and violating trading prohibitions and was sentenced to pay fines, but these were not related to the allegations of her involvement in the cocaine case, which was ostensibly what she was being held for.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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