Editors

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Editors and Freedom of Expression in Sweden

In the Swedish Constitution: The Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression (SFS nr: 1991:1469)

In addition to the Instrument of Government, Sweden has three fundamental laws (Sveriges Grundlagar): the Act of Succession, the Freedom of the Press Act, and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression, which covers responsible editors and other topics. The Riksdag Act occupies an intermediate position between a fundamental law and ordinary law. The four fundamental lwas formed the Constitution of Sweden.

The Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression was adopted in 1991 and is Swedens youngest fundamental law. Like the Freedom of the Press Act, it contains provisions on free dissemination of information and prohibits censorship. It covers old and new media, such as radio, TV, films and CD-ROM discs.

Fundamental laws are more difficult to amend than other laws. They may only be amended or abolished if two Riksdags have adopted identically formulated decisions, with an election intervening. No other laws or ordinances may conflict with the fundamental laws.

Chapter 4 of the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression has the heading “On responsible editors”. Here are the content of Chapter 4:

  • Article 1 provides the following: Radio programmes and technical recordings shall have a responsible editor. A programme editor shall be appointed for each radio programme or programme service, or part thereof, in accordance with more detailed provisions laid down in law. The responsible editor is appointed by the person operating the broadcasting service or causing the technical recording to be made.
  • Article 2 provides the following: The responsible editor shall be a Swedish citizen. It may be prescribed in law that also a foreign national may be a responsible editor. A person who is a responsible editor shall be domiciled within the Realm. No person who is a minor or an undischarged bankrupt, or for whom an administrator has been appointed under special provisions of law, may be a responsible editor. Information shall be available to the general public concerning the identity of the responsible editor.
  • Article 3 provides the following: The responsible editor shall be empowered to supervise the publication of the item and so to determine its content that nothing may be included in it against his wishes. Any restriction of such powers shall be null and void. (see more about the Constitution of Sweden here)
  • Article 4 provides the following: The identity of the responsible editor shall be apparent from a technical recording. The responsible editor shall ensure that every copy of the recording carries such information. The identity of the responsible editor of the database shall be apparent from a technical recording, written document or picture under Chapter 1, Article 9, paragraph one, point 1. The responsible editor shall ensure that every copy carries such information. Information concerning the responsible editor of a radio programme shall be kept available to the general public in accordance with more detailed provisions laid down in law.
  • Article 5 provides the following: A responsible editor appointed for a sound radio programme service may appoint one or more deputies. The provisions of Articles 2 to 4 concerning responsible editors shall apply also to deputies. If the appointment of the responsible editor is terminated, appointments as deputies are also terminated.
  • Article 6 provides the following: A person who, through negligence or by deliberate intent, offends against Article 1 shall be sentenced to pay a fine or, if the circumstances are exceptionally aggravating, to imprisonment for up to one year. A person who, through negligence or by deliberate intent, offends against Article 4, paragraph one, shall be sentenced to pay a money fine. Penalties may be laid down in law for persons who offend against provisions of law laid down by virtue of Article 4 or 5.

Other Chapters of the Law are:

  • Chapter 1. Basic provisions
  • Chapter 2. On the right to anonymity
  • Chapter 3. On transmission, production and dissemination
  • Chapter 5. On freedom of expression offences
  • Chapter 6. Liability rules
  • Chapter 7. On supervision, prosecution and special coercive measures
  • Chapter 8. On damages
  • Chapter 9. On court proceedings in freedom of expression cases
  • Chapter 10. On radio programmes and technical recordings emanating from abroad etc.
  • Chapter 11. General provisions

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