07:06 GMT +323 September 2018
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    Lonely Children: UN Condemns 'Humane' Sweden for Youth Isolation Punishment

    © AFP 2018 / JONATHAN NACKSTRAND
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    Sweden is often regarded as the self-proclaimed champion of human rights, yet, surprisingly enough, Stockholm's own nose is not quite clean. Astonishingly, Sweden was recently called out by the United Nations for the torture of children, which indicates that something is fundamentally wrong in the proud Nordic bastion of human rights.

    The fact that the abuse of children in Sweden happens so systematically may be difficult to comprehend. Yet last year, isolation as a method of child-rearing was used at least 787 times, which constitutes two children a day, a recent survey by Swedish Radio showed. 

    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.

    Earlier, the UN directed sharp criticism at the way Sweden treated its prisoners and children. The UN Committee against Torture "deplored the widespread and prolonged isolation of children." In addition, the UN said that suicides and suicide attempts in youth detention centers are believed to be a result of the isolation.

    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.

    Sweden's Children's Ombudsman Fredrik Malmberg strongly condemned the isolation praxis.

    "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.

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    Tags:
    children's right, torture, UN, Sweden
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