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Swedish report Swedish report
by Euro Reporter
2012-04-04 07:39:40
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Defence minister steps down following outcry over Saudi arms deal

Sweden’s defence minister stepped down Thursday, citing the pressure he has faced from the country’s media over leaked plans to build a weapons plant in Saudi Arabia. Sten Tolgfors denied any wrongdoing and insisted the plans to help Saudi Arabia build a facility for anti-tank weapons were consistent with a 2005 military agreement between the two countries. Tolgfors, defence minister in the centre-right government since 2007, said he had planned to resign anyway, though at a later date.

“The media reports in recent weeks have facilitated and hastened my decision,” he told reporters in Stockholm. Tolgfors was criticized after Swedish public radio, citing leaked documents, reported that Swedish military agencies were in talks to help Saudi Arabia build a facility for repairs and modifications of anti-tank weapons.

Sweden has no ban on weapons exports to Saudi Arabia, but the reports suggested the deal was set up in a way to avoid a public discussion on the issue. Tolgfors defended the plans, saying they were in line with the military cooperation agreement signed by the two countries in 2005 and renewed in 2010. Still, calls for him to resign mounted as the left-wing opposition accused the government of trying to cover-up its involvement in the Saudi plans.


Facebook use in Sweden called a 'habit'

Swedish researchers say their survey of 1,000 Facebook users in the country found the social networking site was habit-forming and could even become addictive. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg found 85 percent of the respondents use Facebook as part of their daily routine, with women spending 81 minutes a day on Facebook and men spending 64 minutes a day on the site.

One-quarter of those surveyed said they would feel ill at ease if they didn't get to log in on a regular basis, the researchers reported Monday. "Facebooking may become an unconscious habit," researcher Leif Denti, a doctoral student in psychology, said. "A majority of the respondents log in every time they start their web browser. This may even develop into an addiction."

Most Facebook postings are of a positive nature, Denti said. "Facebook is a social tool that is clearly used to manage relationships with friends and family. But users won't write just anything -- most of the content they share has something to do with major events, positive events and when feeling good," he said. "Only 38 percent write about negative emotions and events."


Sweden mulls scrapping mental care as penalty

A recent investigation into psychiatric legislation, presented to minister for social affairs Göran Hägglund on Tuesday, suggests scrapping the possibility for courts to sentence criminals to compulsory institutional care. The government appointed committee, which has been looking into Swedish laws on compulsory institutional care since 2008, proposes that Sweden follows the line of many other western countries in regards to institutional care and psychiatric treatment.  In order for criminals to be convicted and sentenced to prison, suspects would still have to be considered responsible for their own actions.

Those suffering from a mental disorder but considered as responsible for their actions could therefore receive prison sentences, which today is not possible. However, the proposal adds that it is important even for these to receive psychiatric care in prison at an early stage. But Mikael Rying, criminologist at the Mid Sweden University (Mittuniversitetet) in Sundsvall, is critical of the proposal.  “It isn’t as if I am for more lenient punishments but it is reasonable these people should be treated in places where there are people with the expertise to deal with them,” he told news agency TT.

According to Rying, the Swedish Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården) simply can’t cope with these individuals.  “I have read over 2,000 investigations about lethal violence and I am convinced that dangerous behaviour won’t go away with severe punishment. A large share of these people are mentally ill or have a personality disorder,” he told TT.  “Whichever is the case; these people need to return to society again some day and what should be important for society is how to prevent them from falling back into a criminal behaviour.” In the 1970s, two out of three murderers wee convicted to psychiatric care. Last year, that number was 13 percent.

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