Under the law, isolation may only be used in "extreme situations" where a child or an adolescent aged twelve and more behaves too violently to be handled differently. Nevertheless, it was revealed that even younger children were subjected to this degrading punishment. Last year, isolation was reportedly used against nine- and ten-year olds.
In Swedish reality, the term isolation implies solitary cells in a juvenile home, which are small bare rooms without furniture and only a mattress on the floor. Children may end up locked in solitude for up to 24 hours, sometimes with only their underwear on. This treatment may be easily labeled as torture. According to the United Nations Convention, torture means exposing another person to serious pain or suffering, be it mental or physical.
Even the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture CTP has ranked Sweden among the worst perpetrators.
"There are not many countries that isolate their prisoners in the same way Sweden does," George Tugushi of the CPT said when he visited Sweden.
"It is clearly shocking that so little kids end up be isolated in this way. I think that isolation absolutely should not occur against children and youths, and I am worried when these institutions expand to encompass more children," he told Swedish Radio. "Are we talking about nine and ten-year olds, so we can see a very worrying development, he said.