Sweden to make it illegal to be active in a terrorist organisation

Sweden's government has submitted a new terror bill which could help convince Turkey that the country is acting to crack down on Swedish residents active in the Kurdish PKK terror group.

Sweden to make it illegal to be active in a terrorist organisation
Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer at a press conference announcing the plans. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The new proposal, titled “a special penalty provision for participation in a terrorist organisation”, will make participation in the activities of a terrorist organisation in any way that “promotes, strengthens or supports” the organisation punishable with up to four years in prison. 

“This is a wider criminalisation that takes aim at a slew of activities within a terrorist organisation that don’t need to be concretely connected to a specific terrorist crime,” Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer told a press conference.

“Sweden has an increased terrorist threat which must be taken very seriously,” he continued. “Now the government is putting forward a legislative proposal which means that both participation in and financing of participation in terrorist organisations will be punishable.” 

Actions such as handling equipment, organising camps or locations for meetings, cooking or being in charge of transport for designated terrorist organisations would be criminalised under the new law, which Strömmer stressed was a “considerable widening of the scope compared to current legislation”.

In November, the country amended its constitution to allow the proposed bill to move forward, as it was deemed to infringe on Sweden’s freedom of association laws.

The proposal will now go to Sweden’s Council on Legislation, which judged a previous proposal to ban membership of a terror organisation, brought in in the wake the 2017 Stockholm terror attack, as in conflict with Sweden’s constitution right to free association. 

Under the proposal, serious cases of the new crime will be punishable by up to eight years in prison, while those found guilty of holding a leadership position in a terror organisation could be jailed for 18 years or even for life. 

The proposal criminalises all forms of support for terror organisations, regardless of whether it is financial or other ways of taking part in it, promoting it and strengthening it. 

Strömmer noted that “partaking in a demonstration or at a meeting will not in itself be punishable”, adding that said flag-waving in itself would not be criminalised but such activities could potentially be used as evidence in court.

The government hopes to be able to submit the proposal to parliament on March 7th, and for it to come into force by June 1st. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


POLL: Swedes say ‘too many sacrifices’ made for Nato membership

A majority of Swedes believe their country made "too many sacrifices" to become a member of Nato, but agreed Sweden's security would be strengthened, a poll released on Friday showed.

POLL: Swedes say 'too many sacrifices' made for Nato membership

Sweden is on track to become the 32nd member of the military alliance within days, after last holdout Hungary ratified its bid on Monday.

Ending two centuries of military non-alignment, the Nordic country applied for Nato membership along Finland in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to a poll conducted by analyst firm Indikator for Swedish broadcaster SR, 55 percent of Swedes believe that the Scandinavian  country “has made too many sacrifices to join Nato”.

Meanwhile, 77 percent believe that “Sweden’s security is strengthened” by its membership.

The survey polled 2,413 people during February, but no questions were asked about the type of sacrifices people took issue with.

The results show that Swedes see “the Nato process for the complicated issue it has been,” Per Oleskog Tryggvason, head of research at Indikator, told AFP.

“The opinion that Sweden’s security is strengthened by Nato membership, for that there is an overwhelming consensus. But you can see that the road there has not been straightforward,” Oleskog Tryggvason said.

Sweden’s bid primarily faced opposition from Turkey which accused the Nordic country of providing a safe haven for dozens of suspects it believes are linked to a failed 2016 coup attempt and Kurdish separatists.

Sweden came to an agreement with Turkey in 2022, committing to consider its extradition requests and to lift an arms embargo dating to Turkey’s 2019 military incursion into Syria.

It also amended its constitution in order to beef up anti-terror legislation.