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Är tvångsarbete kriminaliserat? En undersökning av arbetskraftsexploatering utifrån svensk straffrätt

Svanberg Ohlsson, Otto LU (2012) JURM02 20121
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
I medierna förekommer ofta beskrivningar av utländska arbetstagare som blir utnyttjade av sina arbetsgivare på ett graverande sätt. Exempel på detta har varit de thailändska bärplockarna i Norrland och den kinesiska kock i Malmö som tvingades arbeta fram till att han kollapsade. Eftersom tvångsarbete är ett dolt fenomen utgör dessa fall förmodigen toppen på ett isberg.

Tvångsarbete är inte explicit kriminaliserat utan är straffbelagt inom ramen för människohandelsparagrafen (4 kap. 1 a § BrB). Däremot finns det inga fällande domar för människohandel i arbetskraftssyfte, trots att straffbudet varit gällande sedan 2004. Endast tre fall av människohandel för tvångsarbete har hittills blivit prövade i svenska domstolar. Att döma av antalet... (More)
I medierna förekommer ofta beskrivningar av utländska arbetstagare som blir utnyttjade av sina arbetsgivare på ett graverande sätt. Exempel på detta har varit de thailändska bärplockarna i Norrland och den kinesiska kock i Malmö som tvingades arbeta fram till att han kollapsade. Eftersom tvångsarbete är ett dolt fenomen utgör dessa fall förmodigen toppen på ett isberg.

Tvångsarbete är inte explicit kriminaliserat utan är straffbelagt inom ramen för människohandelsparagrafen (4 kap. 1 a § BrB). Däremot finns det inga fällande domar för människohandel i arbetskraftssyfte, trots att straffbudet varit gällande sedan 2004. Endast tre fall av människohandel för tvångsarbete har hittills blivit prövade i svenska domstolar. Att döma av antalet misstänkta fall som beskrivs i medierna torde det förekomma en enorm skillnad mellan det presumtiva antalet fall i Sverige och det ringa antalet lagföringar. Man kan ställa frågan om den straffrättsliga reglering som är gällande idag är lämplig i förhållande till den verkliga problembilden avseende tvångsarbete.

Syftet med denna uppsats har varit att utvärdera om den svenska strafflagstiftningen är tillräckligt effektiv när det kommer till att lagföra tvångsarbete. Medelst sex fallstudier, baserade på intervjuer med fackombud och polis, har det undersökts hur arbetskraft exploateras i Sverige. På dessa fall har sedan tillämpliga straffbud applicerats och resultatet har diskuterats. Mot bakgrund av den beskrivna problembilden har det därefter i analysen utvärderats om den straffrättsliga lagstiftningen är utformad på ett lämpligt sätt.

Med begreppet arbetskraftsexploatering förstås en situation som kännetecknas av faktorer som att arbetet är hårt och smutsigt, att det är långa arbetsdagar och att det utbetalas en mycket låg lön. Emellertid krävs det något mer för att en situation ska betraktas som tvångsarbete. Enligt ILO som definierat begreppet innebär det att arbetet utförs ofrivilligt och under hot om bestraffning. En arbetstagare som blivit bedragen att ta en anställning kan inte anses ha gjort ett frivilligt val. För att få arbetstagaren att arbeta mot sin vilja och hindra denne från att lämna arbetet använder arbetsgivaren en mängd olika tvångsmedel. Dessa kan vara subtila, psykologiska och svåra att upptäcka för en utomstående betraktare. Bland metoderna hittar man beslagtagande av pass, påhittade skulder, begränsningar av rörelsefriheten, direkta eller underförstådda hot av olika slag eller hot om avslöjande för myndigheter. I vissa fall förekommer även våld eller sexuellt våld. Det utmärkande för tvångsarbetet är det mycket ojämlika maktförhållande som råder mellan arbetstagare och arbetsgivare.


Fallstudierna visar att arbetskraftsexploateringen i Sverige sker under många olika former. Det är svårt att dra en tydlig skiljelinje mellan vad som är tvångsarbete och vad som inte är det. Bland de redovisade fallen finns exempel från bygg-, jordbruks-, transport-, och restaurangsektorn. Dessutom studeras ett par fall där papperslösa blivit utnyttjade.

Fallen går att dela in i tre olika grader. I den första graden finns de fall där endast exploateringsfaktorer uppträder. Detta är inte att betrakta som tvångsarbete. I den andra graden förekommer exploatering men utöver detta har arbetsgivaren använt tvångsmedel för att disciplinera sina anställda. Här är fallen mer svårbedömda. I den tredje graden hittar man de fall där arbetstagaren också har blivit vilseledd vid rekryteringen. Alternativt har en arbetstagares utsatta belägenhet utnyttjats vid rekryteringen. Dessa fall går att definiera som tvångsarbete. Här återfinns också de två fall i studien som är tydliga resultat av en traffickingprocess.

Prövningen av rekvisiten i 4 kap. 1 a § BrB på dessa fall har visat sig problematisk och detta har belyst en rad svagheter med paragrafen.
Det huvudsakliga problemet med människohandelsparagrafen är att den straffbelägger en rad handelsåtgärder, tänkta att ingå i den transportkedja
som förflyttningarna av offren utgör. De otillbörliga medlen (olaga tvång, vilseledande, utnyttjande av utsatt belägenhet) ska för straffansvar ha använts till att förmå offret att underkasta sig handelsåtgärden. Tidigare rättsfall och fallstudierna i uppsatsen visar dock att det vid tvångsarbete i regel är en arbetsprestation som gärningsmannen försöker få offret att utföra med hot eller påtryckningar. Människohandelsbrottet däremot tar helt sikte på handelskedjan, inte på själva exploateringen och hur den gestaltar sig. Indikatorer som beslagtagna pass, skuldförhållanden, subtila frihetsinkränkningar, lönemanipulationer och andra av forskningen identifierade tvångsmedel borde istället vara avgörande vid domstolarnas bedömning.

I och med att människohandelsbrottet är tänkt att kriminalisera angrepp på offrets frihet innebär detta också att rättstillämparens fokus riktas alltför mycket mot frihetsaspekten. Domstolarna lägger stor vikt vid om offren varit direkt frihetsberövade, exempelvis genom inlåsning. Detta leder till friande domar då offer för tvångsarbete oftast är frihetsberövade på mer subtila sätt. De utsatta är långt hemifrån och i en främmande kultur, de kan inte språket och har oftast varken pengar eller resurser att ta sig hem. Vidare visar den internationella forskningen att tvång oftast utövas genom psykologiska eller underförstådda hot. Bristen på kunskap hos domstolarna kan vara en förklaring till varför det fokuseras på tydliga, yttre omständigheter när frihetsaspekten bedöms.

Inte alla fall av tvångsarbete är ett resultat av en traffickingprocess. Många gästarbetare har tagit en anställning frivilligt i hopp om att tjäna pengar och förbättra sin levnadsstandard. Deras utsatthet kan göra att arbetsgivaren gradvis pressar dem allt längre in i en situation som slutar i ett tvångsarbete.
Den enda handelsåtgärd som då har förekommit är rekrytering. Teoretiskt sett kan alltså ett fall av tvångsarbete, där något otillbörligt medel inte har använts vid rekryteringen, helt falla utanför det straffrättsliga området.

Ocker torde vara det brott som ligger närmast till hands efter människohandel. Om en arbetsgivare utnyttjar en arbetstagares trångmål till att betala en extremt låg lön i förhållande till utförd arbetsprestation kan ansvar för ocker föreligga. Även bedrägeriparagrafen kan bli tillämplig. Oftast vilseleds en arbetstagare om lönen vid rekryteringen och om arbetsprestation sedan utförs kan det uppstå en förmögenhetsskada. Dessa brott har emellertid mycket låga straffskalor och avskräcker sannolikt inte i tillräckligt stor utsträckning från den lukrativa hantering som tvångsarbete innebär för en arbetsgivare.

Det kan konstateras att tvångsarbete inte är straffbelagt på ett tillräckligt effektivt sätt i svensk rätt. Istället bör man bryta ut tvångsarbete och straffbelägga det i en egen paragraf. Alternativt kan man straffbelägga handelsåtgärderna och exploateringssituationen parallellt, men samtidigt separat, enligt utformningen i den norska människohandelsparagrafen. (Less)
Abstract
There are often articles in Swedish newspapers describing situations were foreign workers have been exploited by their employers. Well known examples are the Thai berry pickers in Norrland and the Chinese cook in Malmö that was forced to work until he collapsed. Forced Labor is a hidden phenomenon, therefore there is reason to assume that these cases only show the tip of the iceberg.

Forced labor is not explicitly criminalized in Swedish law but is punishable under the human trafficking section (Chapter 4. 1 a § Penal Code). However, there are no convictions for trafficking for labor exploitation, although the penalty bid has been in force since 2004. Only three cases of trafficking for forced labor has so far been tried in Swedish... (More)
There are often articles in Swedish newspapers describing situations were foreign workers have been exploited by their employers. Well known examples are the Thai berry pickers in Norrland and the Chinese cook in Malmö that was forced to work until he collapsed. Forced Labor is a hidden phenomenon, therefore there is reason to assume that these cases only show the tip of the iceberg.

Forced labor is not explicitly criminalized in Swedish law but is punishable under the human trafficking section (Chapter 4. 1 a § Penal Code). However, there are no convictions for trafficking for labor exploitation, although the penalty bid has been in force since 2004. Only three cases of trafficking for forced labor has so far been tried in Swedish courts. Judging by the number of suspected cases described in the media, there is probably a huge difference between the possible number of cases in Sweden and the small number of prosecutions. One may ask whether the current criminal legislation is adequate in relation to the actual situation of forced labor in Sweden.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether the Swedish criminal law is effective enough when it comes to the prosecution of forced labor. The assessment has been made through six case studies, each based on interviews with labor representatives and police officers who have encountered situations of forced labor in their work. In these case studies, applicable criminal sections have been applied. Given the facts described, the criminal laws have subsequently been evaluated.

The concept of labor exploitation means a situation characterized by factors such as hard and dirty work, long working days and very low wages. However, something more is required for a situation to be considered forced labor. According to the ILO, which defined the term, forced labor means that the work is done involuntarily and under menace of penalty. An employee who has been deceived to take a job cannot be deemed to have made a voluntary choice. The employer may use many different forms of coercion in order to make an employee to work against his will and to prevent him from leaving the employment. These methods may be subtle, often psychological, and difficult to detect for an outside observer. Among these methods are confiscations of passports, fake debts, limitations on freedom of movement, direct or implied threats of various kinds or the threat of disclosure to immigration authorities. In some cases there is also violence or sexual violence. A forced labor situation is determined by the nature of the relationship between the employer and his subordinate, usually a very unequal one.

The case studies show that labor exploitation in Sweden take on many different forms. It is difficult to draw a clear dividing line between what is forced labor and what is not. Among the case studies, there are examples from the construction, agriculture, transport, and catering sectors. There are also cases where undocumented immigrants have been exploited.

The cases can be divided into three degrees of labor exploitation. The first level is the case where only factors of exploitation are present. This is not to be regarded as forced labor. In the second level there has been exploitation, but the employer has also been using forms of coercion to discipline their employees. These cases are more difficult to assess. In the third degree, the workers have also been deceived about the working conditions at the recruitment. Alternatively, an employee's position of vulnerability has been abused during recruitment. These cases can clearly be defined as forced labor. The two cases in the study that are clear results of a trafficking process are found in this degree.

The application of the elements in the Swedish trafficking section in the case studies has turned out to be problematic. This has highlighted a number of weaknesses with this section. The main problem with the trafficking section is that is intended on punishing a series of trade elements, included in the transport chain that constitutes trafficking in human beings. The unfair means (coercion, deception, abuse of position of vulnerability) required for criminal liability are used to persuade the victim to submit to the trade elements. However, previous court cases and the case studies in the paper show that, in situations of forced labor, the perpetrator is using unfair means to induce the victim to work. The trafficking section demands focus on the trade elements, not on the actual exploitation. Instead, indicators like seized passports, fake debts, subtle limitations of freedom, withheld wages and other coercive measures identified by international research should be critical in the courts' assessment.

Since the trafficking offense is intended to criminalize attacks on the victim's freedom, this also means that the courts' focus is directed too much towards the freedom aspect. The courts place great emphasis on whether the victims were immediately detained, such as whether they were locked up. This results in acquittals as victims of forced labor often are deprived of their liberty in more subtle ways. The victims are far from home in a foreign culture, they don´t speak the language and have neither the money nor the resources to get home. Furthermore, international research show that coercion usually consists of implied threats. The lack of knowledge about forced labor in the courts may be one reason why there is too much focus on clear, external circumstances when the freedom aspect is considered.

Not all cases of forced labor are the result of a trafficking process. Many migrant workers have taken a job voluntarily, hoping to make money and improve their living standards. Their vulnerability may cause the employer to be gradually pushing them further and further into a situation that ends in forced labor. In these cases, the only transfer element which has occurred has been recruitment. Consequently, a case of forced labor, where no unfair means has been used during the recruitment, may completely fall outside the field of criminal justice.

If an employer uses an employee's distress to pay what is found to be extremely low wages when compared the job performance, criminal liability for usury can be at hand. Also, the fraud section may be applicable in many cases of forced labor. Often, an employee is deceived concerning wages during the recruitment. This could lead to a financial loss for the employee if a job is done without subsequent payment. However, these crimes have relatively low sentences and might therefore not be effectively dissuading an employer from the lucrative prospects of using forced labor.

It is clear that forced labor has not been effectively criminalized in Swedish law. Instead of being included as one of the purposes in the trafficking section, forced labor should be penalized in a separate section. Alternatively, the transfer elements and the labor exploitation could be criminalized within the same section, but separately, according to the design of the Norwegian trafficking section. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Svanberg Ohlsson, Otto LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Forced labor - Punishable under Swedish law?
course
JURM02 20121
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
straffrätt, tvångsarbete, arbetskraftsexploatering, människohandel, trafficking, gästarbetare, säsongsarbetare, papperslösa
language
Swedish
id
2542842
date added to LUP
2012-10-15 12:44:10
date last changed
2012-10-15 12:44:10
@misc{2542842,
  abstract     = {There are often articles in Swedish newspapers describing situations were foreign workers have been exploited by their employers. Well known examples are the Thai berry pickers in Norrland and the Chinese cook in Malmö that was forced to work until he collapsed. Forced Labor is a hidden phenomenon, therefore there is reason to assume that these cases only show the tip of the iceberg.

Forced labor is not explicitly criminalized in Swedish law but is punishable under the human trafficking section (Chapter 4. 1 a § Penal Code). However, there are no convictions for trafficking for labor exploitation, although the penalty bid has been in force since 2004. Only three cases of trafficking for forced labor has so far been tried in Swedish courts. Judging by the number of suspected cases described in the media, there is probably a huge difference between the possible number of cases in Sweden and the small number of prosecutions. One may ask whether the current criminal legislation is adequate in relation to the actual situation of forced labor in Sweden.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether the Swedish criminal law is effective enough when it comes to the prosecution of forced labor. The assessment has been made through six case studies, each based on interviews with labor representatives and police officers who have encountered situations of forced labor in their work. In these case studies, applicable criminal sections have been applied. Given the facts described, the criminal laws have subsequently been evaluated.

The concept of labor exploitation means a situation characterized by factors such as hard and dirty work, long working days and very low wages. However, something more is required for a situation to be considered forced labor. According to the ILO, which defined the term, forced labor means that the work is done involuntarily and under menace of penalty. An employee who has been deceived to take a job cannot be deemed to have made a voluntary choice. The employer may use many different forms of coercion in order to make an employee to work against his will and to prevent him from leaving the employment. These methods may be subtle, often psychological, and difficult to detect for an outside observer. Among these methods are confiscations of passports, fake debts, limitations on freedom of movement, direct or implied threats of various kinds or the threat of disclosure to immigration authorities. In some cases there is also violence or sexual violence. A forced labor situation is determined by the nature of the relationship between the employer and his subordinate, usually a very unequal one.

The case studies show that labor exploitation in Sweden take on many different forms. It is difficult to draw a clear dividing line between what is forced labor and what is not. Among the case studies, there are examples from the construction, agriculture, transport, and catering sectors. There are also cases where undocumented immigrants have been exploited.

The cases can be divided into three degrees of labor exploitation. The first level is the case where only factors of exploitation are present. This is not to be regarded as forced labor. In the second level there has been exploitation, but the employer has also been using forms of coercion to discipline their employees. These cases are more difficult to assess. In the third degree, the workers have also been deceived about the working conditions at the recruitment. Alternatively, an employee's position of vulnerability has been abused during recruitment. These cases can clearly be defined as forced labor. The two cases in the study that are clear results of a trafficking process are found in this degree.

The application of the elements in the Swedish trafficking section in the case studies has turned out to be problematic. This has highlighted a number of weaknesses with this section. The main problem with the trafficking section is that is intended on punishing a series of trade elements, included in the transport chain that constitutes trafficking in human beings. The unfair means (coercion, deception, abuse of position of vulnerability) required for criminal liability are used to persuade the victim to submit to the trade elements. However, previous court cases and the case studies in the paper show that, in situations of forced labor, the perpetrator is using unfair means to induce the victim to work. The trafficking section demands focus on the trade elements, not on the actual exploitation. Instead, indicators like seized passports, fake debts, subtle limitations of freedom, withheld wages and other coercive measures identified by international research should be critical in the courts' assessment.

Since the trafficking offense is intended to criminalize attacks on the victim's freedom, this also means that the courts' focus is directed too much towards the freedom aspect. The courts place great emphasis on whether the victims were immediately detained, such as whether they were locked up. This results in acquittals as victims of forced labor often are deprived of their liberty in more subtle ways. The victims are far from home in a foreign culture, they don´t speak the language and have neither the money nor the resources to get home. Furthermore, international research show that coercion usually consists of implied threats. The lack of knowledge about forced labor in the courts may be one reason why there is too much focus on clear, external circumstances when the freedom aspect is considered.

Not all cases of forced labor are the result of a trafficking process. Many migrant workers have taken a job voluntarily, hoping to make money and improve their living standards. Their vulnerability may cause the employer to be gradually pushing them further and further into a situation that ends in forced labor. In these cases, the only transfer element which has occurred has been recruitment. Consequently, a case of forced labor, where no unfair means has been used during the recruitment, may completely fall outside the field of criminal justice.

If an employer uses an employee's distress to pay what is found to be extremely low wages when compared the job performance, criminal liability for usury can be at hand. Also, the fraud section may be applicable in many cases of forced labor. Often, an employee is deceived concerning wages during the recruitment. This could lead to a financial loss for the employee if a job is done without subsequent payment. However, these crimes have relatively low sentences and might therefore not be effectively dissuading an employer from the lucrative prospects of using forced labor.

It is clear that forced labor has not been effectively criminalized in Swedish law. Instead of being included as one of the purposes in the trafficking section, forced labor should be penalized in a separate section. Alternatively, the transfer elements and the labor exploitation could be criminalized within the same section, but separately, according to the design of the Norwegian trafficking section.},
  author       = {Svanberg Ohlsson, Otto},
  keyword      = {straffrätt,tvångsarbete,arbetskraftsexploatering,människohandel,trafficking,gästarbetare,säsongsarbetare,papperslösa},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Är tvångsarbete kriminaliserat? En undersökning av arbetskraftsexploatering utifrån svensk straffrätt},
  year         = {2012},
}