A United Nations report accusing Sweden of violating human rights of refugees, minors and minorities has been serving as a basis for a diplomatic settling of scores between Stockholm and Jerusalem, with critics saying Sweden must take a hard look at itself before it slams Israeli policy towards Palestinians.
The report, presented by the United Nations Committee against Torture, criticized the treatment of children in Swedish detention and custody. The ill treatment includes, among other things, isolation for long hours and police violence – in violation with international law.
"Sweden is self-righteous," the Swedish Commissioner for Children said in reproach. "The Swedes think that their country is taking good care of children, but the reality is different."
Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Isaac Bachman took advantage of the report's conclusions and the committee's discussion to present a critique of Sweden's foreign policy.
"It turns out that the state of human and children's rights in a country that is sharply critical of us on the same issues, particularly regarding the territories, is much less glorious than could be expected," he wrote in a telegram to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.
"All the more so given that the country is a 'human rights superpower' that appointed itself as a model for human rights activists everywhere"
The committee also criticized Sweden for its forced return of asylum seekers to their home countries, despite the danger they might face there, and their failure to provide protection to children of refugees from trafficking and exploitation. Other issues discussed in the report were an increase in hate crimes against minorities, forced psychiatric hospitalization of adults and children, as well as an increase in violence against women.
"Sweden's image as a law-abiding country that is meticulous about maintaining human rights has been completely shattered," said a human rights activist, one of the co-authors of the report.
The Swedish justice ministry said in response that they will study the report, adding that "there are indeed important issues that must be corrected, as will be done."