A border control at the Öresund bridge. Photo: Linda Axelsson.
A border control at the Öresund bridge. Photo: Linda Axelsson.

Prosecutors want guidelines for 'humanitarian smuggling'

Prosecutor: In some cases, it can be a family member.
1:28 min

An increasing number of people are being charged with human smuggling in Sweden. Some cases involve people not in it to profit, and now prosecutors are asking for guidelines on how to deal with so-called "humanitarian smuggling."

Some 60 people were involved in different human smuggling cases in 2015. And there have been 29 already this year. Most incidents were reported in the southern region of Skåne, as many asylum seekers try to reach Sweden by crossing the Öresund bridge.

"Two years ago we had the normal kind of case, where the culprit wants to make money with human smuggling. Human smuggling cases today look very different," Malmö district prosecutor Linda Rasmussen says.

"In some cases, it can be a family member of those people being smuggled over the border. It can also be a person who just wants to help, what we call humanitarian reasons. But then there are also people who just want to make money. It's still a profitable business," Rasmussen adds.

The normal sentence for human smuggling cases in Sweden is three months of imprisonment. But an old EU directive grants people immunity in cases where their motives are humanitarian.

Sweden has not introduced a similar rule, but the Supreme Court is open to considering the possibility. In order to see a change, a specific case would have to reach either a court of appeal or the Supreme Court in order to establish a legal precedent. 

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