Country report - Immigration Detention in Sweden: Increasing Restrictions and Deportations, Growing Civil Society Resistance (July 2018)
Traditionally, Sweden has been lauded for having more humane detention practices than its Scandinavian neighbours, including Norway and Denmark. Yet, a sharp increase in the number of asylum applications in 2015 (more than 160,000) triggered a shift in both policy and public discourse. In January 2016, the Swedish government introduced new border controls, boosted police forces, and revealed plans to deport up to 80,000 non-citizens who do not qualify for refugee status.
The country also introduced new regulations to reduce the attractiveness of Sweden as a destination country.2 In 2016, for example, Sweden adopted a law providing temporary limitations on residence permits (2016:752) (Lag om tillfälliga begränsningar av möjligheten att få uppehållstillstånd i Sverige) while restricting the right to family reunification.
This restrictive policy environment has proved divisive. While anti-immigrant political parties have gained increasing support, many civil society groups have fervently opposed the harsh treatment of migrants and asylum seekers. The global notoriety garnered by a viral video showing a Swedish student’s successful on-flight protest in July 2018 to keep an Afghani man from being deported to Afghanistan helped draw attention to the polarised environment in Sweden around migration issues, while also