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En tvärdisciplinär studie om barns utsagor vid sexuella övergrepp – Har barn förmågan att leva upp till domstolars krav?

Rolfson, Mathilda LU (2017) JURM02 20172
Department of Law
Faculty of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Sexuella övergrepp mot barn tillhör de mål som är allra svårast att hantera i svenska domstolar. Ofta består bevisningen i målet endast av barnets utsaga, vilket medför svåra bevisvärderingsproblem. Högsta domstolen har i NJA 2010 s. 671 fastslagit ett antal kriterier som kan vara behjälpliga vid bevisvärdering av muntliga utsagor. Vad som bland annat kan beaktas är om utsagan är lång, sammanhängande och detaljrik. Någon distinktion mellan utsagor från vuxna och barn görs emellertid inte. Prejudikatet har varit föremål för kritik i den juridiska litteraturen. Det har bland annat anförts att kriterierna inte tar hänsyn till barns svårigheter med att berätta om sexuella övergrepp.

Med intentionen att studera rätten ur ett annat perspektiv... (More)
Sexuella övergrepp mot barn tillhör de mål som är allra svårast att hantera i svenska domstolar. Ofta består bevisningen i målet endast av barnets utsaga, vilket medför svåra bevisvärderingsproblem. Högsta domstolen har i NJA 2010 s. 671 fastslagit ett antal kriterier som kan vara behjälpliga vid bevisvärdering av muntliga utsagor. Vad som bland annat kan beaktas är om utsagan är lång, sammanhängande och detaljrik. Någon distinktion mellan utsagor från vuxna och barn görs emellertid inte. Prejudikatet har varit föremål för kritik i den juridiska litteraturen. Det har bland annat anförts att kriterierna inte tar hänsyn till barns svårigheter med att berätta om sexuella övergrepp.

Med intentionen att studera rätten ur ett annat perspektiv antar denna uppsats en tvärdisciplinär ansats. Syftet med uppsatsen är således att, utifrån den rättsanalytiska metoden, undersöka huruvida svenska domstolars bevisvärdering av barns utsagor i mål om sexualbrott har stöd i rättspsykologisk forskning.

Rättspsykologisk forskning visar att barn har stora svårigheter med att berätta om sexuella övergrepp. Barnens utsagor tenderar att vara detaljfattiga och fragmentariska – vilket närmast står i konstrast till Högsta domstolens kriterier. I april 2017 kom Högsta domstolen emellertid med ett nytt prejudikat: NJA 2017 s. 316 II. I prejudikatet uttalas – med hänvisning till rättspsykologisk forskning i SOU 2017:7 – att kriterierna kan vara svåra att tillämpa på personer som av olika skäl har en nedsatt förmåga att uttrycka sig verbalt. Uppsatsen visar emellertid att innebörden av det nya prejudikatet förefaller vag. Svenska domstolars bevisvärdering av barns utsagor tycks sakna stöd i rättspsykologisk forskning kring hur barn berättar om sexuella övergrepp. Det är därför av vikt att kunskapen kring rättspsykologi ökar i rättsväsendet samt att innebörden av det nya prejudikatet förtydligas. (Less)
Abstract
Cases involving child sexual abuse are among the most complex cases for Swedish courts to handle. Evidence often only consists of the child’s statement, which complicates the process of evaluating the evidence. In order to facilitate the evaluation of oral statements the Supreme Court of Sweden established a number of different criteria in its ruling in NJA 2010 s. 671. The statements should for instance be coherent, comprehensive and detailed. However, no distinction is made between children and adults, when applying the different criteria. The precedent has therefore been criticized. Legal scholars have for instance argued that the criteria do not take into account the difficulties children may experience when testifying about sexual... (More)
Cases involving child sexual abuse are among the most complex cases for Swedish courts to handle. Evidence often only consists of the child’s statement, which complicates the process of evaluating the evidence. In order to facilitate the evaluation of oral statements the Supreme Court of Sweden established a number of different criteria in its ruling in NJA 2010 s. 671. The statements should for instance be coherent, comprehensive and detailed. However, no distinction is made between children and adults, when applying the different criteria. The precedent has therefore been criticized. Legal scholars have for instance argued that the criteria do not take into account the difficulties children may experience when testifying about sexual abuse.

By adopting an interdisciplinary approach and combining legal analysis with a traditional legal dogmatic method the purpose of this thesis is to review how Swedish courts evaluate statements from children in cases of sexual abuse and whether or not the evaluation of evidence is supported by studies within the field of forensic psychology.

Forensic psychology research shows that children, who have experienced sexual abuse, may have great difficulties sharing their experiences with others. Furthermore, research shows that – in contrast to the criteria established by the Supreme Court of Sweden – children's abuse disclosures are often fragmentary and tend to lack detailed descriptions. In April 2017 the Supreme Court of Sweden gave judgment in a new precedent in its ruling in NJA 2017 s. 316 II. In its judgement, the court stated – with reference to the forensic psychology research cited in SOU 2017:7 – that the criteria may be difficult to apply on individuals who have trouble or lack the ability to express themselves verbally. However, this thesis shows that the role and importance of the new judicial precedent is vague. The way Swedish courts evaluate statements from children in cases of sexual abuse do, in other words, not seem consistent with forensic psychology research and how children normally express themselves verbally. It is therefore important that both the knowledge and application of forensic psychology increases within the judicial system. In addition, the new precedent needs to be not only more emphasized, but also better clarified. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Rolfson, Mathilda LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Children’s statements about sexual abuse: an interdisciplinary study
course
JURM02 20172
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Straffrätt, bevisvärdering, muntliga utsagor, barn, sexualbrott mot barn, NJA 2017 s. 316, SOU 2017:7, evaluation of evidence, criminal law, child sexual abuse
language
Swedish
id
8933765
date added to LUP
2018-02-08 13:50:53
date last changed
2018-02-08 13:50:53
@misc{8933765,
  abstract     = {Cases involving child sexual abuse are among the most complex cases for Swedish courts to handle. Evidence often only consists of the child’s statement, which complicates the process of evaluating the evidence. In order to facilitate the evaluation of oral statements the Supreme Court of Sweden established a number of different criteria in its ruling in NJA 2010 s. 671. The statements should for instance be coherent, comprehensive and detailed. However, no distinction is made between children and adults, when applying the different criteria. The precedent has therefore been criticized. Legal scholars have for instance argued that the criteria do not take into account the difficulties children may experience when testifying about sexual abuse. 

By adopting an interdisciplinary approach and combining legal analysis with a traditional legal dogmatic method the purpose of this thesis is to review how Swedish courts evaluate statements from children in cases of sexual abuse and whether or not the evaluation of evidence is supported by studies within the field of forensic psychology. 

Forensic psychology research shows that children, who have experienced sexual abuse, may have great difficulties sharing their experiences with others. Furthermore, research shows that – in contrast to the criteria established by the Supreme Court of Sweden – children's abuse disclosures are often fragmentary and tend to lack detailed descriptions. In April 2017 the Supreme Court of Sweden gave judgment in a new precedent in its ruling in NJA 2017 s. 316 II. In its judgement, the court stated – with reference to the forensic psychology research cited in SOU 2017:7 – that the criteria may be difficult to apply on individuals who have trouble or lack the ability to express themselves verbally. However, this thesis shows that the role and importance of the new judicial precedent is vague. The way Swedish courts evaluate statements from children in cases of sexual abuse do, in other words, not seem consistent with forensic psychology research and how children normally express themselves verbally. It is therefore important that both the knowledge and application of forensic psychology increases within the judicial system. In addition, the new precedent needs to be not only more emphasized, but also better clarified.},
  author       = {Rolfson, Mathilda},
  keyword      = {Straffrätt,bevisvärdering,muntliga utsagor,barn,sexualbrott mot barn,NJA 2017 s. 316,SOU 2017:7,evaluation of evidence,criminal law,child sexual abuse},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {En tvärdisciplinär studie om barns utsagor vid sexuella övergrepp – Har barn förmågan att leva upp till domstolars krav?},
  year         = {2017},
}