Swedish police are under scrutiny this morning after reports surfaced over their failure to inform the public of sexual assaults that occurred at a 2015 music festival. A group of migrant youths, Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported, groped several girls at the August event that was aimed at hosting 12- to 17-year-olds. The police department hid these reports away in order to prevent possible anti-immigrant backlash or revenge attacks, sources said.
Swedish police’s overall attention and severity of response to this kind of assault have increased recently, following an incident in Cologne, Germany where “scores” of women were reportedly groped on New Year’s Eve by groups that authorities described as having “a North African or Arabic” appearance.
In the case of the 2015 music festival, a police memo was discovered that urged caution to the officers following reports of “young men who rub themselves against young girls.” The assaulters were mostly migrants, it was reported, including from Afghanistan. Dagens Nyheter criticized Swedish police for failing to disclose that similar incidents had occurred the year before, “prompting speculation that the authorities were trying to avoid an anti-immigrant backlash.”
A 15-year-old who attended the 2015 festival described her experience with the attackers to Dagens Nyheter: “As soon as you came out in the crowd, they began to grope.”
Varg Gyllander, a Stockholm police spokesperson, shouldered responsibility for the lack of public information in a statement to The Local, despite denying the existence of a cover-up.
“We should certainly have written and told people about this, no doubt. Why it did not happen, I do not know.”
A researcher of hate crimes at the University of Goteborg, David Brax, told The New York Times that police may have decided to withhold the reports due to fears of terrorism stemming from the recent influx of immigrants. Sweden’s far-right Democrats, known to be harshly anti-immigrant, will likely use the situation as proof that police are protecting migrants from facing full responsibility even after they’ve committed crime, he said.
Sweden and Germany have been two of the most receptive European countries toward migrants as of late.
Source: The New York Times