Video shows Swedish security guards 'assaulting' a child
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Two private security guards are under police investigation after they were caught on camera violently detaining a 9-year-old boy in the train station in the Swedish city of Malmö on February 6. Sweden has been horrified by the footage while a human rights group said it was not the first time that Swedish private security guards have overstepped their boundaries. ...
This screenshot is from a video of a Swedish private security guard holding down a 9-year-old boy in a train station in Malmö, Sweden on February 6, 2015.
Two private security guards are under police investigation after they were caught on camera violently detaining a 9-year-old boy in the train station in the Swedish city of Malmö on February 6. Sweden has been horrified by the footage while a human rights group said it was not the first time that Swedish private security guards have overstepped their boundaries.
In three separate videos filmed by witnesses, a private security guard is seen pushing the boy to the ground, sitting on him and holding his hands over the boy’s mouth and face. The boy can be heard reciting the Shahada, which is the Muslim profession of faith.
The guards, employees of security company Svensk Bevakningstjänst, detained the boy and his 12-year-old friend after they were caught travelling without tickets. The boys had run away from a care home and several witnesses said that they were not able to speak Swedish.
A witness told Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan that, before they started filming, the guard slammed the boy’s head on the ground so hard that the noise echoed throughout the station.
A witness filmed this video of a Swedish private security guard holding a 9-year-old boy on the ground while his colleague tries to violently detain the boy's friend in a train station in Malmö, Sweden on February 6, 2015 (Photo: YouTube)
Another witness' video published by Sydsvenskan shows a closer angle of the scene.
"We need to train these guards to learn to avoid violence and to communicate"Omar Abdullahi is the chairman for human rights organisation Stand Down, Sir, which seeks increased restrictions for private security guards in Sweden. He is based in Stockholm.
I started my organisation two years ago after I myself was physically assaulted by security guards in a restaurant in Stockholm in 2013. Unfortunately, my story isn’t rare.
In Sweden, the police run a special training programme for private security officers working in public spaces [for example, hospitals, shopping centres and train stations]. These security guards are certified after only 80 hours of training [though this is on top of about 300 hours of basic training, according to the spokesperson of Securitas, one of Sweden's most well-known private security company]. But after those two weeks, they have many of the same rights as police. [Editor’s note: This certification programme is widely used in Sweden and other Nordic countries. Once they have completed this programme, the guards have the right to enforce public order.] This creates a high-risk situation for human rights abuse. For example, the guards in the video were probably never trained on how to handle children.
“These kids were lucky that they had witnesses to the abuse”
There are statistics in Sweden about police brutality. But there are no statistics about violence perpetrated by security guards because they are considered private citizens.
Just like the police, private security guards are required by Swedish law to document all of their actions. Within the police force, there is a systematic internal review of reports filed. But in the private sector, very often no one looks at these reports, leaving many abuses to go unpunished.
Moreover, while police work mostly in public places filled with potential witnesses, security guards are often in places that are not open to the public like restaurants or clubs [Editor's note: Security guards working for private establishments wouldn't necessarily have gone through the police training course]. The abuse may take place in a kitchen or a basement or a security guard room where there are no witnesses. These kids were lucky that they had witnesses to the abuse.
I also had that luck, but I am the only person in my entire organisation, which counts 400 members, who was able to press charges against the security guard who abused me. He paid me damages and was put on probation, but he kept his job.
However, initially, it was I who was charged with violence against him! [Editor’s note: In this latest case, one of the security guards reported the boy for violent behaviour, but the investigation was dropped due to the boy’s young age, according to Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan.] Swedish law takes very seriously violence against police and security guards but it seems that they are less interested when it comes to violence against the public.
We need to train these guards to learn to avoid violence and to communicate. The debate is ongoing right now but I don’t have much hope that things will change. I am worried this case will be shelved indefinitely. It wouldn’t be the first time.
The spokesperson for Jernhusen, the station owner that has a contract with the security company, told The Local that they have a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy towards excessive violence.
“Clearly this looks very unpleasant on video, but right now we have too little information to draw a conclusion. However, we have a very good partnership with the security company. It is carrying out an internal investigation and we will await its findings,” she said.
After the incident, the two boys were brought back to their care home. They apparently went missing again on Wednesday, according to Radio Sweden.
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Brenna Daldorph (@brennad87)