3 May – World Press Freedom Day
Together with four of Sweden's current guest writers and some of the leading defenders of freedom of speech, the Swedish Migration Agency is observing this year's World Press Freedom Day.
Each year on 3 May, the spotlight is shone on the sacrifices which have been made in the name of the freedom of the press, as well as the responsibility of governments to uphold the freedom of speech.
Granting residence permits to writers, artists and other independent cultural professionals for temporary settlement in a Swedish municipality is one step in an international exchange through which Sweden strikes an important blow for the freedom of speech and press. Freedom of speech is also central when the Swedish Migration Agency assesses international protection during the course of an asylum examination.
"To safeguard the protection of freedom of speech and press, it is important to observe how the conditions for freedom of speech change throughout the world. It's about the vulnerability of those for whom freedom of speech is fundamental for the actual exercise of their profession and others who, for example, use blogging as a tool for expressing criticism of a regime through opinions and positions", says Carl Bexelius, Assistant Director for Legal Affairs at the Swedish Migration Agency.
Extensive restrictions of freedom of speech occur all over the world. Among those who seek asylum in Sweden are journalists, bloggers, protesters and others who risk persecution because they have expressed their opinions. This type of commitment can lead to the regime in the country of origin interpreting it as taking a political position which is forbidden. In accordance with the Geneva Convention of 1951, if this type of person risks persecution by repatriation, he or she can be granted asylum.
Foreign journalists, artists and actors may also apply for temporary residence permits in order to work in Sweden. With regards to employment for a maximum of one month and upon invitation by a Swedish company in the radio or television industry, there is even the possibility of exemption from the work permit requirement. The same applies for journalists employed by a company which does not have a subsidiary branch or office in Sweden.
Listen to four of Sweden's current guest writers speak about their views on freedom of speech and press.