Press Law

Press Law in Europe

Press Law in Sweden

In the Swedish Constitution: The Freedom of the Press Act (SFS nr: 1949:105)

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

Other available information in this European legal encyclopedia about the freedom of the press in Sweden is here:

  • Press Freedom
  • Anonymity
  • Periodicals
  • Offences
  • Official Documents
  • Printed Materials
  • Press Supervision
  • Freedom of the Press Court Cases

Matter Printed Abroad in the Freedom of the Press Act

The most recent Freedom of the Press Act was adopted in 1949 although Sweden established freedom of the press by law as early as 1766 and was first in the world to do so, at least according to its government. Freedom of the press means the right to disseminate information in printed form but with accountability before the law. Another feature of the Freedom of the Press Act is the citizens right to study public documents, and the principle of public access to official documents.

Chapter 13 of the Freedom of the Press Act has the heading “On matter printed abroad etc.”. Here are the content of Chapter 13:

  • Article 1 provides the following: The provisions of Chapters 1, 3, 6 and 7; Chapter 8, Articles 1, 2, 5 to 7, and 10 to 12; and Chapters 9 to 12, apply in relevant parts to matter printed abroad and published in the Realm, unless otherwise provided below.
  • Article 2 provides the following: Matter printed abroad shall be deemed to have been published within the Realm if it has been delivered for dissemination within the Realm as described in Chapter 1, Article 6. (see more about the Constitution of Sweden here)
  • Article 3 provides the following: If a periodical which is printed abroad is intended primarily for dissemination within the Realm, the provisions of Chapter 5 apply in relevant parts; the provisions relating to the qualifications of owners shall not apply. Publication in the Realm of any other periodical printed abroad does not require a certificate of no legal impediment to publication. Should such a certificate exist, the provisions of paragraph one shall apply in respect of the periodical.
  • Article 4 provides the following: The provisions of this Act concerning the liability under penal law of a person who has produced printed matter shall refer in respect of matter printed abroad to the person who caused the matter to be delivered for dissemination within the Realm, or, if it is impossible to establish his identity, or if at the time of publication he was not domiciled within the Realm, to the person who is deemed to be the disseminator under Chapter 6.
  • Article 5 provides the following: Provisions are laid down in law concerning the obligation to retain for scrutiny copies of matter printed abroad and to furnish copies of such matter to libraries or archives. (see more about the Constitution of Sweden here)
  • Article 6 provides the following: In the case of matter which is printed abroad and published in the Realm, but not intended primarily for dissemination within the Realm, and for which no certificate of no legal impediment 54 to publication exists, the provisions of Chapter 1, Article 1, paragraphs three and four, concerning the communication and procurement of information and intelligence for publication apply, unless 1. communication or procurement constitutes an offence against the security of the Realm; 2. communication includes supply or release of documents under Chapter 7, Article 3, paragraph one, point 2; 3. communication constitutes deliberate disregard of a duty of confidentiality. Paragraph one applies also in respect of matter not published in Sweden, regardless of whether it is printed here or abroad. In this connection a person who contributes to material in a periodical by other means, as author or other originator, is equated with a person communicating information for publication. If communication or procurement is punishable under law pursuant to paragraphs one and two, relevant provisions of law apply. Cases concerning liability under penal law or private claims for damages on account of an offence now referred to shall be heard as freedom of the press cases, unless Chapter 12, Article 1, paragraph two, sentence three, applies in like manner. The provisions of Chapter 3 shall apply in respect of the source’s right to anonymity: the rule laid down in Article 3, point 3, however extends also to offences against the security of the Realm other than those referred to therein.

General Provisions in the Freedom of the Press Act

Chapter 14 of the Freedom of the Press Act has the heading “General provisions”. Here are the content of Chapter 14:

  • Article 1 provides the following: Provisions of law relating to the re-opening of closed cases in general apply also to rulings in freedom of the press cases, even if the question of whether an offence has been committed has been tried by a jury. If a case in which a jury has tried the question of whether an offence has been committed is reopened and its re-opening is founded on circumstances which may be presumed to have influenced the jury’s deliberations, it shall be determined at the same time to resubmit the case to a jury of the court which first pronounced judgment. If a retrial is granted in favour of the defendant and the matter is manifest, the court granting the retrial may instead revise the judgment forthwith.
  • Article 2 provides the following: When, as a result of a ruling by a higher instance, a freedom of the press case in which a jury participated shall be retried before a jury of the court which first pronounced judgment, the provisions of Chapter 12, Articles 10 to 14, apply with respect to the empanelling of the jury.
  • Article 3 provides the following: Freedom of the press cases and other cases concerning offences against the provisions of this Act shall always be dealt with promptly. (see more about the Constitution of Sweden here)
  • Article 4 provides the following: Repealed.
  • Article 5 provides the following: General provisions of law or statute apply in all matters not dealt with in provisions of this Act or special legislation enacted by virtue of this Act. Except as otherwise laid down in this Act or elsewhere in law, foreign nationals are equated with Swedish citizens.

Other Chapters

Other Chapters of the Act are:

  • Chapter 1: On the freedom of the press
  • Chapter 2: On the public nature of official documents
  • Chapter 3: On the right to anonymity
  • Chapter 4: On the production of printed matter
  • Chapter 5: On the publication of periodicals
  • Chapter 6: On the dissemination of printed matter
  • Chapter 7: On offences against the freedom of the press
  • Chapter 8: Liability rules
  • Chapter 9: On supervision and prosecution
  • Chapter 10: On special coercive measures
  • Chapter 11: On private claims for damages
  • Chapter 12: On court proceedings in freedom of the press cases

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