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Questions and answers: Act and Ordinance on identity checks in the event of serious danger to public order or domestic security in the country
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In 2015, Sweden received approximately 163 000 asylum applications, around 35 000 of which were from unaccompanied minors. This entails many and major challenges, not just for the Swedish asylum system, which is being subjected to major strains, but also for other public services such as access to housing, health and medical care, schools and social welfare.
The Government has made the assessment that the current situation with the large number of people who have entered the country during a relatively short period of time represents a serious threat to public order and internal security. The decisions on temporary internal border controls that have been in effect since 12 November 2015 have had some effect, but the Government has also considered it necessary to establish additional preconditions for measures that, if necessary, can be used to maintain public order and internal security. This is necessary to ensure that fundamental societal functions are not completely knocked out of action.
Act and ordinance
The Act on special measures in the event of serious danger to public order or domestic security entered into force on 21 December 2015. The Act gives the Government the authority (allows the Government) to issue an ordinance containing provisions stating that ID checks are to be carried out in connection with transportation by bus, train or passenger ship to Sweden from another state. Such measures may be taken in order to maintain law and order or to protect national security. These provisions may apply for no more than six months.
On four occasions, the Government adopted an ordinance containing specific provisions on ID checks for travel to Sweden from Denmark. The first ordinance was in effect from 4 January 2016 to 4 July 2016. The most recent ordinance was in effect until 4 May 2017. As of that date, the provisions on ID checks ceased to apply.
Questions and answers:
1. What does the Act entail?
The Act allows the Government, in the event of serious danger to public order or domestic security, to introduce ID checks for travel by bus, train or passenger ship to Sweden from abroad, in order to maintain law and order or protect national security. The Act entered into force on 21 December 2015. The Act is temporary and applies for three years from the date it entered into force, i.e. until 21 December 2018. Within this period of time, provisions on ID checks pursuant to the Act may apply for no more than six months.
2. Why should the Government be allowed to implement such measures?
It is necessary to establish preconditions for additional measures that, if necessary, can be used to maintain law and order or protect national security. In situations where there is serious danger to public order or domestic security, it must be possible to quickly take relevant measures. It should therefore be possible for the Government to take decisions ordering such measures. Requiring ID checks improves the chances of identifying people who enter Sweden. The checks have led to a reduction in the number of people seeking asylum in Sweden. The measures have had a positive impact on the ability to maintain order and security and reduce the general pressure on public services.
3. What is required for the Government to introduce ID checks?
If a serious danger to public order or domestic security has arisen, the Government may issue regulations that result in the introduction of some ID checks for the purpose of maintaining law and order or protecting national security.
4. The Act on ID checks stipulates that temporary ID checks may only be introduced in situations where "there is serious danger to public order or domestic security". What does this concept mean?
This concept should be understood in broad terms. Public order also includes critical infrastructure, such as schools and health care services. If such public services cannot be carried out in a secure manner, public order and domestic security are jeopardised.
5. How long did the provisions on ID checks apply?
The Ordinance on certain identity checks in the event of serious danger to public order or domestic security entered into force on 4 January 2016. The Ordinance initially applied for six months, in other words the checks expired 3 July 2016. The Government subsequently renewed the provisions on several occasions. The most recent ordinance ceased to apply on 4 May 2017.
6. Which traffic is affected by the Act and the ordinances?
The Act covers train and bus connections, and travel by passenger ship to Sweden from abroad, i.e. cross-border traffic. However, the Act does allow the possibility of limiting any ID checks to transportation from a specific country. The ordinances covered bus or train transportation from Denmark, and transportation on passenger ships making trips of 20 nautical miles or shorter.
7. What applies for passenger ships making trips of more than 20 nautical miles?
Passenger ships making trips of more than 20 nautical miles are already covered by the provisions of the Government Ordinance on Ship Safety concerning registration of individuals on board, including checks of identity documents.
These rules apply until further notice and will thus be applied even after the period of validity for the provisions on ID checks has expired.
8. What will happen to financial penalties charged to carriers?
Under the previously adopted ordinances, a financial penalty of SEK 50 000 per transport occasion is charged if a carrier cannot show that ID checks have been carried out. Decisions on financial penalties are taken by the Swedish Transport Agency and refer to transportation during the period from 4 January 2016 until 3 May 2017. Under certain conditions, financial penalties that have been charged may be waived or reduced by the Swedish Transport Agency.
9. Will the State reimburse carriers for any additional costs resulting from the ID checks?
In December 2016, the Government adopted an ordinance entitling carriers to apply for compensation for reasonable costs incurred in connection with ID checks. Under the ordinance, compensation will be paid for reasonable costs incurred by a carrier for ID checks carried out in accordance with regulations issued by the Government under Section 3 of the Act on special measures in the event of serious danger to public order or domestic security (2015:1073). Applications are submitted after the fact and examined by the Swedish Transport Administration.
10. Can the provisions on ID checks be reinstated?
The Act on special measures in the event of serious danger to public order or domestic security (2015:1073) allows the Government, in the event of serious danger to public order or domestic security, to introduce ID checks for travel by bus, train or passenger ship to Sweden from abroad, in order to maintain law and order or protect national security.
Should the Government consider that serious danger to public order or domestic security once again exists, the provisions on ID checks can be reinstated. The Act is temporary and will cease to apply on 21 December 2018.