Second Swedish town moves to ban begging

The town of Staffanstorp in southern Sweden has taken a step towards becoming the nation’s second to formally ban begging.

Second Swedish town moves to ban begging
File photo: Björn Lindgren/TT
On Wednesday evening, Staffanstorp’s municipal council board passed a proposal to ban begging within its borders, Sydsvenskan newspaper reported. The proposal passed by an eight to three vote, although this does not mean it can come into effect yet: it will be voted on by the municipal assembly next month.
Staffanstorp, located roughly 20 kilometres east of Malmö, would become the second Swedish municipality to ban begging.

In December, the first such ban came into effect after the by Supreme Administrative Court upheld regulations put in place by Vellinge, another town in Skåne. 
The Vellinge ban on begging or passive money collection applies to five defined areas in the municipality, a measure introduced after a municipality-wide begging ban in another town was judged to be incompatible with public order laws. 
The ruling was expected to set a precedent and lead to more begging bans being introduced around Sweden, and now local politicians in Staffanstorp are the first to act in the aftermath of the court decision. Their ban would also be restricted to specific areas.
Pierre Sjöstrom of the Social Democrats was one of three council members to vote against the ban, arguing that there is no need. 
“We do not actually consider begging a problem in the municipality. We shouldn’t make a problem out of something that doesn’t exist,” he told Sydsvenskan. 
Eric Tabich of the Moderates voted in favour of the ban and said it was a matter of “public order” in part because beggars were such frequent users of toilets in local department stores, but also said that it was “mostly a matter of principles”.

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Switzerland condemned by rights court over fine for beggar

The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday faulted Switzerland for imposing a heavy fine on a Romanian woman for begging and then detaining her when she couldn't pay.

Switzerland condemned by rights court over fine for beggar
Begging is against the law in Geneva. Photo by AFP

The ethnic Roma in her late twenties, was fined 500 Swiss francs (464 euros, $563 at current rates) for begging on the street in Geneva in January 2014.

When the woman, who is illiterate and has no job or welfare payments, failed to pay up, she was placed in temporary detention for five days.

The court found the penalties against the woman were out of proportion with Switzerland's aims of fighting organised crime and protecting passers-by, residents and business owners.

The woman had “the right, which is inherent in human dignity, to express her distress and try to meet her needs by begging”, the verdict said.

Switzerland had violated article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which guarantees the protection of private and family life, it said, ordering the country to pay the woman 922 euros ($1,118) in moral damages.