The work of a Swedish online social justice group is being touted as the reason for the country seeing over 450 hate crime prosecutions in 2018.
According to the Swedish Public Prosecutor’s Office, 459 prosecutions for hate speech were brought against individuals last year and in northern Sweden, there has been a tripling in the number of convictions since 2016, Swedish broadcaster SVT reports.
SVT claims the rise in the number of prosecutions is down to the activity of the online social justice group Näthatsgranskaren, which the broadcaster also credited last year for a rise in prosecutions.
Elderly Swede on Trial for Calling Somali Migrants ‘Lazy’ Online https://t.co/WNCGBc98fJ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 25, 2019
Tomas Åberg, the group’s project manager, commented on the rise in prosecutions saying, “We started in 2017 and have worked out a good method for making real and complete submissions. The police get good material to work with and it has led to considerably more convictions.”
“The tone of social media, both in terms of heated language against ethnic groups, abuses, unlawful threats, and incitement, just becomes coarser and coarser. This means that not everyone can participate in the democratic conversation on social media and that is a major democracy problem,” he added.
Åberg, a former police officer, and Näthatsgranskaren have not been without their own controversies, however.
Pensioner fined for hate speech after calling Muslims 'monkeys' online https://t.co/XkOfsqSXuK
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 29, 2017
Åberg admitted that many of the prosecutions have involved elderly people including a case in which a 7o-year-old man was fined 700 euros for saying Somalian migrants “are the laziest people in this world.”
The prosecution came after Näthatsgranskaren had reported his comments on Facebook.
Earlier this year another elderly man, a 91-year-old, was convicted for hate speech over comments made online about Muslims.
While some are critical of the work of the group, others, like Malmö prosecutor Ingela Sörgård, support them. “The police do not have resources,” Sörgård said, “So it is of course good that they exist.”