Swedish prosecutors have dropped a case involving a man who married an underage girl in Syria and got her pregnant at 13 or 14-years-old because the crime took place abroad.
The allegations of child rape were brought to the prosecutor by both the Social Services and Migration Board as the man and the woman in question are migrants from Syria. The man, born in 1987, and the young girl, born in 1999, were married in Syria in 2013 when the girl would have been between the ages of 13 or 14, the man around 26, and had a child together the following year.
According to Swedish law, it is illegal for an adult to have sexual relations with a minor under the age of 15 but in a press release, the prosecutor said they would not be filing charges. The prosecutor indicated that charges would not be filed because the crime occurred outside of Sweden and the pair had “no connection” to Sweden before coming as asylum seekers in 2015.
They did note that there are laws in Sweden that allow prosecutors to pursue charges against Swedes who commit crimes in other countries that may be legal abroad but not in Sweden. The example of underage sex tourism was used to illustrate the point.
Attorney General Anders Perklev explained the decision saying, “There is nothing in the legislative history of the legislation to suggest that it has been the intention of crimes abroad to be prosecuted in Sweden in a situation like the present. At the same time, circumstances may differ, and an assessment must be made in each case.”
Changing the existing laws, “could have far-reaching consequences for people who have fled here,” Perlev said and added, “A change in the principles would, therefore, require careful consideration and should not be done any other way than through new legislation.”
In cases of international law, the Swedish government has prosecuted migrants for crimes committed in other countries. Recently a Syrian migrant was jailed for life after being accused of taking part and filming mass killings in the Syrian civil war.
The case also raises the issue of child brides and the legality of child marriage in Sweden. In Germany, the government is fighting against child marriages which have been on the rise due to migration from areas in the Middle East and North Africa.
Last year the middle-eastern nation of Jordan, which houses many Syrians who have fled the civil war conflict, said the number of child marriages had set a new record.
Denmark has gone the opposite way of Germany and decided to allow underage migrant girls to reunite with their much older husbands in the country, despite their marriages being illegal under Danish law.
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at firstname.lastname@example.org