The law recognizes Sami (formerly known as Lapps), Swedish Finns, Tornedalers, Roma, and Jews as national minorities. The law permits and the government supported minority languages. The discrimination ombudsman received 755 complaints regarding ethnic discrimination in 2013, compared with 514 in 2012. Of the complaints, 295 related to the labor market (see section 7.d.).
Societal discrimination and violence against immigrants and Roma continued to be a problem during the year.
Police registered reports of xenophobic crimes, some of which related to neo-Nazi or white-power ideology. Police investigated, and the district attorney’s office prosecuted race-related crimes. Official estimates placed the number of active neo-Nazis and white supremacists at 1,500. Neo-Nazi groups operated legally, but courts have held that it is illegal to wear xenophobic symbols or racist paraphernalia or to display signs and banners with inflammatory symbols at rallies, since the law prohibits incitement of hatred against ethnic groups.
In December 2013 approximately 200 persons with a permit of assembly gathered in Karrtorp, a suburb south of Stockholm, to demonstrate against racism and neo-Nazism. A group of approximately 30 neo-Nazis carrying flares and clubs entered the square, leading to a riot. The attack severely injured four persons, including two police officers. Police arrested approximately 28 persons. In March the courts convicted eight individuals: one man for attempted manslaughter, sentencing him to six-and-a-half years in prison; and three men for violent rioting, sentencing them to six to eight months in prison. The courts also sentenced four juvenile offenders to social youth service. The weekend after the original riot, 16,000 persons in Karrtorp peacefully protested against racism and neo-Nazism.
The government estimated the Romani population at 50,000. A majority of the Roma lived as outcasts. The unemployment rate among Roma was high, due in part to poor education and prejudices. A Rom’s life expectancy was significantly lower than the country’s average. In 2013 authorities identified 233 hate crimes directed against Roma. Perpetrators of hate crimes usually worked in the service sector (34 percent) or were a neighbor of the victim (16 percent). In recent years the number of Roma, mainly from Romania, engaged in street begging increased. As EU citizens, they are allowed to stay without permission for up to three months, and begging is legal in Sweden.
In September 2013 the media reported the Skane County police had compiled a dedicated database of approximately 4,700 Roma in the country. The ethnocentric database tracked family ties between individuals. In April the chancellor of justice ruled all registered Roma were entitled to compensation on the ground that the registration was illegal on several points, including that authorities had registered 1,320 children. In May the government decided to pay 5,000 kronor ($735) compensation to each Rom in the database. The justice ombudsman’s investigation of overall responsibility continued at year’s end. The Security and Integrity Agency reviewed the Skane police during the last half of the year.
The government continued its 20-year strategy to equalize the opportunities available to young Roma and non-Roma by 2032. The strategy included a series of proposed measures to improve the condition of Roma in six focus areas: education, work, housing, health and social care, culture and language, and civil society. During the year the government commissioned the Agency for Youth and Civil Matters to distribute grants to organizations within civil society who want to implement health promotion initiatives targeting Roma. The agency will also conduct a project to facilitate exchange of experience between Romani and non-Romani organizations.
In January Gothenburg’s City Museum opened the exhibition “We are Roma--Meet the People Behind the Myth,” which was scheduled to continue until March 2015. The exhibition raised the question of why Roma were not accepted into today’s society. The museum collaborated closely with representatives from Romani groups and held a smaller version of the exhibition in Stockholm.