National Implementation of IHL
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Penal Code, 1962
Brottsbalk (1962: 700)

The Code has been amended several times (in particular: Chapter 22§6a inserted in 1994 and Chapter 22§6b inserted in 1999).
Swedish version:  (last accessed on 06.06.2013); English version: (last accessed on 24.04.2012)

The Penal Code is applicable in time of peace and in wartime. For example, the provisions concerning murder and rape apply in an armed conflict, too. There is no special military penal law; instead, certain sections of the Code, such as the provisions concerning desertion or treason, only apply when Sweden is at war.

Serious violations of IHL

Chapter 22§6 (BrB 22:6) specifically concerns violations of treaty and/or customary international humanitarian law. Any person responsible for a serious violation of IHL (folkrättsbrott) shall be sentenced to prison, with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if the crime is considered to be grave. A crime is considered to be grave if it has been carried out through a large number of separate acts, if many people have been killed or injured, or if extensive loss of property has occurred as a result of the action. Chapter 22§6 gives an indicative list of actions that constitute grave crimes (folkrättsbrott).

Responsibility of commanders and superior order

With regard to violations of IHL and responsibility, the Code has two main sections. Chapter 22§6 states that if the crime has been carried out by a soldier, then his commander shall also bear responsibility if the commander could have foreseen the crime and failed to take any action to prevent it. Chapter 24§8, which also concern crimes other than violations of IHL, regulates the question of responsibility when following orders. This does not entail responsibility if, with regard to the obligation to obey, the kind of action that was ordered and other circumstances, the person was under an obligation to follow orders.

Extra-territorial jurisdiction

Swedish courts normally have jurisdiction to prosecute for all crimes committed in Sweden and crimes committed by Swedish citizens or persons domiciled in Sweden. For crimes committed outside Sweden by persons who are not Swedish citizens or not domiciled in Sweden, Swedish courts may still have jurisdiction for a number of reasons, e.g. protective jurisdiction or for a crime committed in violation of international law or on a vessel sailing under the Swedish flag, etc.

Chemical weapons

Chapter 22§6a, (BrB 22:6 a) was incorporated into the Code when Sweden ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. Any person that develops, produces, stores, transfers or uses chemical weapons shall be sentenced for illicit handling of chemical weapons (olovlig befattning med kemiska vapen). Any participation in military preparations to use chemical weapons is illegal. The use of riot control agents as a means of warfare is also illegal under paragraph 6 a (BrB 22:6 a) and paragraph 6 (BrB 22:6).


Chapter 22§6b, (BrB 22:6 b) was incorporated into the Code when Sweden ratified the Ottawa Convention against anti-personnel mines. Any person that develops, produces, stores, transfers or uses anti-personnel mines shall be sentenced for illicit handling of mines (olovlig befattning med minor) unless sentenced under paragraph 6 (BrB 22:6). Any handling of mines that is allowed under the Convention against anti-personnel mines does not constitute a crime.

File TypeSizeFile Name
application/pdf 332 KB Sweden - Penal Code, 1962 [eng].pdf
application/pdf 230 KB Sweden - Penal Code, 1962 [swe].pdf