Due to Covid-19, there are currently restrictions on travels to and from Sweden. For updated information on what applies to your country, please visit krisinformation.se, official emergency information from Swedish authorities.


Openness shapes Swedish society

Sweden is a free and open society. The people have freedom of speech, a free press, the right to scrutinise those in power and the right to take part in demonstrations.

Start reading

Internet access helps promote democracy.
Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se

Openness shapes Swedish society

Sweden is a free and open society. The people have freedom of speech, a free press, the right to scrutinise those in power and the right to take part in demonstrations.

Protecting openness

Openness and transparency are vital parts of Swedish democracy. The democratic society is protected by four fundamental laws: the Instrument of Government, the Freedom of the Press Act, the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression and the Act of Succession. These laws make up the Swedish Constitution and they take precedence over all other laws.

The constitution states that all citizens have the right to freely seek information, organise demonstrations, form political parties and practice their religion.

Read more about political parties in Sweden.
Read more about religion in Sweden.

Freedom of the press

Freedom of the press is based on freedom of expression and speech – a cornerstone of most democracies. In 1766, Sweden became the first country in the world to write freedom of the press into its constitution. The Freedom of the Press Act states that those in authority must be held accountable and all information must be freely available. The identities of sources who provide publishers, editors or news agencies with information are protected, and journalists can never be forced to reveal their sources.

But the right to express an opinion is not an absolute right. When abused, freedom of speech can be offensive, incite discrimination or violence, or have negative consequences for an individual or society. Suspected crimes against the freedom of press or expression laws are dealt with by the non-political Office of the Chancellor of Justice.

In Reporters Without Borders’ worldwide press freedom ranking for 2020, Sweden ranked fourth. The list is based on the degree of freedom that journalists and news organisations have in each country, and the efforts made by the authorities to safeguard this freedom.

A climate manifestation in Stockholm on 27 September 2019.

Photo: Jann Lipka/imagebank.sweden.se

Freedom of information

The principle of freedom of information means that the general public and the mass media have access to official records, which means that they have the opportunity to scrutinise the activities of government on all levels – national, regional and local. Transparency reduces the risk of power being abused.

Civil servants and others who work for the government are also free to inform the media or outsiders. However, certain documents can be kept secret – for example if they involve matters of national security.

Equality and human rights

In Sweden, human rights are protected primarily through the Instrument of Government, the Freedom of the Press Act and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression. Public power should be exercised with respect for the equality of everyone and the freedom and dignity of the individual.

Laws and other regulations may not lead to any citizen being disadvantaged because they belong to a minority, in terms of gender, transgender identity or expression, ethnic origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation or age.

Through its laws and regulations, Sweden strives to ensure that everyone is treated equally.

Photo: Magnus Liam Karlsson/

The global fight for human rights

The European Convention on Human Rights has been incorporated into Swedish law since 1995. Sweden has also signed and ratified several human rights agreements within the UN, International Labour Organization and the Council of Europe. All areas of Swedish foreign policy – security, development, migration, environmental and trade policy – should be based on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Social media are part of everyday life for most Swedes.

Photo: Emelie Asplund/

Openness on the internet

Sweden has the highest level of internet usage within the European Union. Out of a population of 10 million, 98 per cent have access to internet in the home (2019). The Swedish government aims for a ‘completely connected Sweden’ by 2025.

Of all people aged 12 or more, 95 per cent are internet users. And 87 per cent of Swedes use the internet via their smartphones on a daily basis.

Copyright and innovation

The growth of the internet has brought the world file-sharing, leading to debates about the infringement of copyright on books, music, films and software. The loud conflicts about piracy some years ago seem to have calmed down, partly because of the introduction of success­ful products and companies that offer legal alternatives for music and video streaming.

Social media in Sweden

Social media have become an integrated part of many Swedes’ everyday lives. As many as 74 per cent of internet users use Facebook, and 61 per cent use Instagram. Snapchat growth has slowed down and the platform is now used by 39 per cent. Around 24 per cent use Twitter.

Open aid

Based on the idea of transparency, Sweden has a website – openaid.se – which is built on open government data. It offers individuals, NGOs, aid recipients and officials the chance to access and study official government data. The aim is to further transparency and openness in humanitarian efforts and to inspire other institutions to increase their transparency and openness towards the public.

The Children’s Ombudsman protects children’s rights and interests. It also makes sure that the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child is followed.

Photo: Ann-Sofi Rosenkvist/imagebank.sweden.se

Last updated: 5 August 2020