Likhet Inför Slagen? - Brottsoffers identitet och våldsverkares straff
Sammanfattning: The notion that all are equal before law, and thus are entitled to equal protection by law, is well established in Western society. However, there are still exceptions to this rule. Physically similar acts of violence may be punished differently, depending on the identity of the victim. Not only the severity of an assault, but also the sexuality, occupation, age and ethnicity of the victim are factors that, among others, may affect the offender’s verdict. The purpose of this essay is to find out who benefits from this extra protection, how and why they benefit from it and how such extra protection correlates with human rights and basic principles of Swedish law. In Sweden, there are two ways to increase a penalty due to the victim's identity. The first method is to create a separate offense, with separate sentencing guidelines, higher than in comparable cases where the victims are not especially protected. The second method is to condemn the offender of an already existing offense, but to instead let the victim’s identity affect the particular sentence, rendering in a higher sentence than usual for that offense. Broadly speaking, Sweden has four different groups of people who enjoy such additional protection. State officials, the head of state and family, people considered not being capable of defending themselves, such as children, elderly and disabled, and people belonging to certain minorities. These regulations have been implemented separately, during a long period of time, and vary in form and purpose. The legislation’s limits are not uncontroversial, and over the years several proposals have been presented in parliament, concerning extensions as well as reductions. Politicians and journalists are groups that have been mentioned to deserve additional protection, while the extensive protection of the king has been questioned. The laws have never been fully harmonized with each other, causing many to complain about inconsistency and unfairness. While the Swedish laws may not violate any human rights – laws like this exists not only in Sweden, but in many other democracies – it can be questioned whether these regulations are fully in line with established principles concerning crime and punishment. It is said that the severity of a punishment is to be determined by the principles of proportionality, universal prevention, individual prevention, and humanism. It certainly is possible to vaguely connect the Swedish regulations to these principles of punishment, but one could argue that they do not justify the difference between some groups of people and others. Legislators ought to tread carefully when dealing with human rights, and perhaps it’s time for Sweden to take a step back, and examine these regulations in the light of our principles of law.
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