Honour killings and other honour-related violence have become a significant problem in the increasingly multicultural Sweden.
On 1 June 2022, a new Swedish law against honour-related oppression entered into force. One year later, the new law has not led to a single prosecution.
“Of course I’m a little disappointed. I would have hoped for at least some prosecutions after as long as a year,” says Jessica Wenna, a prosecutor specialising in honour crimes.
The Act on Suppression of Honor provides stricter penalties for pre-existing crimes committed with motives of honour – if they occur on repeated occasions. The minimum penalty will then be one year in prison. According to the State Attorney’s Office, several investigations into defamation have been initiated but concluded.
The law faculty committee at Stockholm University feared that the law risks leading to “stigmatisation of certain groups”. The criticism was rejected by prosecutor Jessica Wenna. She claims that your religion or ethnic background plays no role in this context.
Wenna, on the other hand, says that it is very difficult and complex to prove that an act was committed with an honour-related motive.
Regionalt stødcentrum heder in Gothenburg helps people who have been victims of honour crimes. Leader Christine Lidström is not surprised that the new law against such crimes has so far not led to any prosecution. “This specific legislation places very high demands on the prosecution and the police, but also on the victim,” says Lidström. Many people are reluctant to report their own relatives.
At the same time, criticism is directed at the work of the police. Due to a lack of expertise in matters of honour, honour-related crimes are not uncovered, says the Regionalt stødcentrum heder, among other things.
“I agree. We need to increase competence at all levels, with our prosecuting authorities, with the police and social services,” says prosecutor Jessica Wenna.
Unfortunately, this is also a matter of resources. Swedish police are already overwhelmed by gang crime and bombs. It is of little help to introduce new laws if the police and the justice system do not have the capacity, ability and willingness to enforce the laws. They often don’t have that in today’s Sweden.