Tag Archives: Prison

Ched Evans rape case: so much wrong with petition against convicted footballer

Ched Evans playing for Sheffield United in 2010, before his conviction for rape

Convicted rapist Ched Evans may well appear in Sheffield United colours again soon

FOOTBALLER CHED EVANS currently stands convicted of rape.  He’s served two and a half years of his five-year prison sentence and he’s just been released. Although Evans has an upcoming case review and maintains his own innocence, he’s guilty until proven otherwise.

But really, Ched Evans’ guilt is immaterial to the discussions currently dominating the mainstream media. We’ve made this rape case all about us.

There are 150,000 people who have signed a well-publicised petition to ban him from ever playing football again; meanwhile the UK’s shadow sports minister, Clive Efford, has openly called for Evans not to be employed in the game again.

If your children are mindlessly imitating the actions of footballers without any intervention, you’re a bad parent

If those pressures don’t expedite the justice process, nothing ever will – yet people still feel that a fast-tracked case review somehow constitutes special treatment for the former Sheffield United frontman.

Were Evans’ conviction to be overturned, the damage might already be done by these campaigns against him (damage which, as it stands, he has done to himself). If his conviction is upheld, all the better for more prompt closure.

Fluid principles

The baleful reactions roused by Evans’ case have illuminated a more general problem, though, of people carelessly taking for granted some of the stoutest pillars of our society; principles and laws long fought for and hard-won.

Forget the case review, the law says that someone has served their time – and that’s that. Punishment served. Superficially at least we like to say that we aren’t run by mob-rule in this society. But if you’re going to pick and choose when to apply your principles, you’ll have hollowed them out by the time you really come to need them. We have to have some faith that, in the long-term, laws are better than us just making things up on the hoof.

And yes, it is very easy for me to sit here and say all this – but if it were me or one of my family or friends who was the victim here, I would still have to lump it. Because principles are not applied merely to the extent that my emotional capacity will allow. They’re tougher than that, and they’re supposed to be.  If we still have a problem, we need to take it up with our justice system – not Ched Evans.

Ban everyone. Everywhere.

You could be forgiven for thinking, after following this news story, that football was the only high-paying profession in the world. You’d think that they are the only people who are sculpted into false idols by a melodramatic media; the only ones beamed into our homes day and night; the only faces our children see and imitate; the only public figures who acquire demigod status through the incomprehensibly feverish loyalty of those who champion them.

Many think that it is perverse to allow a convicted rapist like Ched Evans to return to earning a relatively large wage. Yet people in countless professions beyond football earn unthinkably high sums of money; they can do equally terrible things. Even more so than footballers, we promote these people’s names and faces as role models.

So, I look forward to a similar petition the next time anyone finishes serving their time for a rape charge. He won’t be allowed back to work either, I can safely presume?  Because the punishment is never complete.

Ched Evas in his days at Manchester City, where he graduated through the youth academy

Ched Evans was an academy graduate at Man City

Nouveau-riche wankers

Depressingly, this episode has seen numerous people plunge enthusiastically into classism – classism that has been woven into the psyche of all of us. Footballers are, in the popular estimation, wankers.

They’re nouveau-riche wankers, too – and we’ve somehow, unquestioningly, adopted that disdain handed down to us from on high. We’re all ready to get the knives out in the same way as for the much-maligned and caricatured ‘chav’.

Why do we target the footballer for especially venomous denigration, who in most cases is neither qualified nor equipped to earn much more than buttons once he’s the wrong side of 35? All your other high-flyer professionals would have little trouble finding a new source of income even if a million of us picketed their preferred place of work.

Clive Efford says that a rape conviction would restrict the work of many other professionals, but not all.  And picking on footballers is easy, arbitrary witch-hunting.  Life is far from simple or rewarding for many footballers and the sport still takes barely rudimentary care of its players – a topic that could fill a whole tome in itself.

Parents: stop outsourcing

Ched Evans is hardly the first footballer who, having committed a serious offence, has been chided for being a poor role model to ‘the children’ – on top of everything else.

A sizeable minority of parents – the ones who are the scourge of junior football matches up and down the country – need to concentrate first on their own example to their children, rather than ranting, raving, behaving ridiculously and expecting footballers – strangers – to assume responsibility.

And we need to be crystal clear: if your children are mindlessly, slavishly following and imitating the actions of footballers – through several years of indoctrination, without any intervention – you’re a bad parent.

This piece isn’t intended to be contrarian for the sake of it, nor to dismiss or belittle the several-year ordeal of Evans’ victim, which will never truly be ‘over’ now.  But we set several damaging precedents for the process of justice in the UK if we overreach as far as we have with Ched Evans.

And if you really are feeling vindictive, surely you’ll want to throw Evans to the football fans on a weekly basis.  The reception he’ll get every time he steps on a football pitch from now until he retires will ensure he’s never allowed to move on, nor fade quietly into anonymity.

Words: Sean Gibson

Images: Lead (Jon Candy); inset (Mattythewhite)

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Picking the wound of Brazil’s dire prison system

BRAZILIAN PRISONS ARE an out-dated deposit for human beings, and imprisonment has more to do with persecution than crime rates. With arbitrary arrests that use the World Cup as excuse, the country re-opens the issue.

 The 7×1 by Germany is the smallest reason why Brazilians should be embarrassed. In the final weekend of the World Cup, a legal anomaly made national news: 60 preventive arrests were carried out using “possible future crimes” against protesters, family members and even guests present in their homes at the time.  By violating the constitutional principle that all are innocent until proven guilty, it was considered by some as an authoritarian measure. However, the ongoing issue dug into a larger problem: the abysmal conditions of the country’s penal system. Without going to trial and no jail to be held, those arrested were taken to Bangú Prison (Rio de Janeiro), one of the most feared penitentiary complexes in the country.

Debate about the national justice system is increasingly necessary. Easy solutions have been launched aimlessly, but mostly boil down to increasing violence against the offender, making more arrests, removing rights referred to as privileges and extending penalties. ​But being tough on crime ignores certain vulnerabilities and is based on a series of flawed assumptions.

​Demographics

Discussing crime often involves the claim that there are not enough prisons in the country; there are too many laws that
protect criminals; penal age should be lowered; and, occasionally, that the right to a fair trial is “kindness towards the bad guy”. ​However, statistics issued by the InfoPen database and the National Council of Justice (CNJ) point out that the lack of arrests is simply not real. Moreover, data suggests that ​the inhuman​ conditions means that, instead of resocializing, penitentiaries actually “breed” criminals.​

In 2012, InfoPen indicated a prison population of 548 thousand inmates. The number presented by Depen (National Penitentiary Department) is 563.7 thousand. Of these, 195 thousand are on temporary situation, that is, those who – like the protestors – have not yet been convicted and should not be imprisoned. There are another 22 thousand inmates which, according to CNJ, have already served their sentences and should have been released. In other words: almost 40% of Brazilian inmates should not be in prison in the first place.​

Tanozzo

A task force led by CNJ in 2011 spelled out the problems that accompany this scenario. Between manning and excessive sentences, there is unnecessary suffering caused by the poor conditions, such as diseases and forced labour, not established by court. According to official data processed by Thiago Reis and Clara Velasco for the G1 news portal, there is a deficit of 200.2 thousand vacancies, considering the system is able to handle only 363.5 thousand people. Although claims of insufficient arrests exist, the number of prisoners in Brazil has grown exponentially over the past 20 years, from 126 thousand to nearly 564 thousand imprisoned between 1993 and 2013.

So what does this mean, in global terms? Brazil has the fourth largest prison population in the world, only behind US (2 million prisoners), China (1.6 million prisoners) and Russia (780 thousand). This cannot be a good indicator, as  two of these are authoritarian regimes, the remainder being a largely privatized system with the largest penal population on the planet. It is worth mentioning the US maintains life imprisonment for recidivates (recurring offenders) in many states, in addition to a privatised system that strengthens lobbying to expand the use of deprivation of freedom instead of alternative punishment. “The model is outdated”, argues Humberto Fabretti, professor of criminal law and criminology at the Mackenzie Presbyterian University, in a column in Jornal do Brasil. “No one seems aware of the paradox that you want to re-socialize somebody away from society,” he says.

Inspections performed by the National Council of Public Prosecutors (CNMP), entity responsible for investigating abuses by public bodies, revealed that prisons serve as schools for crime. Those charged with minor felonies receive the same treatment as those accused of heinous crimes. According to the agency, out of the 1.598 prisons to receive the inspection, 79% mix temporary and definitive prisoners; 67% mix people who are serving sentences in different regimes (open, semi-open, closed); and almost 78% mix first-time and repeat offenders. In 68% of the sites, there is no separation by dangerousness or according to the offense committed. In 65%, gang members are not separated.

 

Imprisonment, violence and socialization

The treatment of prisoners is often uneven. In the prison of Grajaú, “imprisoned employees” took over administrative routines, while in Pavuna (both in Rio de Janeiro), “internal security” has been passed on to the detainees as a measure to save investments on prison guards. In both cases, as in many other unofficial agreements between staff and prisoners, the “employees” received perks that included air-conditioning, refrigerators and televisions, while the rest of prisoners huddled in overcrowded and filthy cells.

Last May, Amnesty International released the global campaign “Stop Torture”, result from a survey of countries where torture remains as a State practice. In Brazil, about 80% of the population is afraid of being arrested and tortured. Alexandre Ciconello, chairperson for the NGO, called state governments’ discourse on the practice “hypocritical”. “Some truly embrace torture as policy, others make the speech that are against torture, but in practice do not restrain it, or, when they do, it is in a very shy way”, he stated. In response, José Eduardo Cardozo, justice minister since 2011, admitted that the prison system in the country is “on an almost medieval situation.”

As pointed out by the joint effort by CNJ, the treatment of prisoners in Brazil involves a series systematized acts of violence that often make the rehabilitation of the inmate impossible. Governmental disregard towards prisoners paved the way for prisons to become the playfield of organized crime groups One such group is the infamous Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC); dealing in drugs, prostitution and kidnappings, coordinating the action from inside jail, the PCC was responsible for a series of 250 attacks in 2006, that left 128 dead – since then, the group has been involved in multiple prisoner rebellions.

Often, newbies are required to join one of the gangs formed inside the detention facility in exchange for a minimum level of security, not offered by the state. In numbers: there were at least 218 killings last year alone. Official reports by the prison system represent the average of one death every two days. Frequent cases of violence against detainees include beatings, torture and even executions, both by prison officers and criminal factions. The intent is to intimidate the rest of the prisoners through example. Sexual abuse and rape against inmates occur, often in group.

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Even granted benefits can be delivered in a twisted fashion. Although conjugal (sexual) visits are allowed, this sometimes means harassment and intimidation against partners. In feminine facilities in particular, the deprivation of medical treatment is shocking, with inmates being handcuffed in the postpartum and prolonged isolation schemes are handed out without justifiable cause. Cells designed for four people frequently harbour fifteen. They are unventilated, subjected to excessive heat and painful cold, depending on season and region. Inmates sleep crammed on the floor, often filthy, many times over the hole that serves as a toilet. All problems which, admittedly, are not restricted to Brazil.

Unsanitary hygiene conditions are standard, not the exception. So is the lack of health material. In some cases, the task force encountered wards in which medication expired more than five months before. Rats and cockroaches are regular company. Again, female prisons scare: one report says prisoners were using pieces of bread as tampons. It is also common that these cells, already inadequate for adults, also house their small children. According to a 2005 report by the University of Brasilia, there were 291 children living inside prisons – and while the CNJ didn’t supply a precise number, it’s 2013 report indicates the situation has worsened since then.

Still, population calls for a even more grotesque treatment due to a couple of factors. First, there is dehumanization of the offender. Secondly because the problem of repeated felonies – 70% for juvenile offenders (one of the largest in the world) and “mere” 50% for adults – is not usually seen as related to how he was brutalized in prison. Third, neither to how he is marginalized from society on release. And this comes from how inmates and criminals are portrayed in public imagination.

Social stigma

The argument to justify violence against the convict is very simplistic: it is deserved because of the people he harmed. But this is pretty emblematic if considered the actual felonies. There is a fixed idea that every criminal is violent, dangerous, irredeemable and, therefore, deserves abject violence. However, CNJ points that 65% of Brazilian inmates have not committed violent crimes – and, as mentioned earlier, nearly 200 thousand of them have not even been to court.

The situation is little different with female detainees: two thirds of the female prison population were arrested for drug related offenses, and according to Claúdia Priscila – director of a documentary about women in prison – these are often lesser offenses. “They generally play a secondary role in the drug trade, and do not represent a threat to society”, she explained to brazilian website PortoCultura. They often take the blame so to spare their partners from being charged. The end result of these arrests, she claims, are broken families.

Both in news media and in the entertainment industry, social factors of crime are ignored. The problem in reduced from a complex social factor to a mere question of character and personality. It is not social policies, lack of opportunities, drug addiction, discrimination or the parallel state formed in disadvantaged communities that leads young people in vulnerable situations to crime. It is “bad blood”; “lack of character”; “the easy way to get ahead”.

Low educational levels should, by law, be compensated while serving time. Education in prison is a constitutional right, and one of the cornerstones of the rehabilitation process. However, only 8.6% of prisoners are included in educational programs, and only a fifth of them work legally during the period, in apprenticeship programmes. In Brazil, every three worked days deduce one day from the total due time, and any remuneration is passed on to the detainee’s family.

Outside prison, being a former convict is synonymous with unemployment, as some employers ask for the criminal record of potential candidates. Many consider correct not hire ex-cons, because of believed security risks. The somewhat obvious result is poverty. According to the CNJ, 95% of prisoners are poor or very poor, mostly coming from favelas and illegal occupations – where government bodies are absent, except for episodes of repression. Of these, 65% have not completed primary education, which severely limits integration to the labour market and the possibility of livelihood.

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What comes next

Aggravation is yet to come. Recently, Congresswoman Antônia Lúcia, from the Social Christian Party, has proposed an amendment to the constitution, which eliminates financial support granted to the families of inmates who have contributed to social security through taxes. The aid was established in 1988 in order to cover inmate’s children basic necessities. However, she argues this “promotes banditry”, suggesting it would be better to leave out in the open the family as an explicit additional punishment. Although this means another violation of the Constitution, by consciously harming innocents for crimes of others (in this case, the father or mother).

She argues that the aid would be passed on to the victim, who already receives compensation from the defendant and the State on demand. Support comes from the increasingly common phenomena: since the beginning of the year, there has been over 45 successful lynching attempts by organized civilian mobs dedicated to vigilante justice. More than 300 hundred attempted attacks have also been registered by police forces. In most cases, no evidence other than hearsay existed against the victims.

For all such instances, Fabretti urges caution. “The prisoners are entitled to fundamental rights, and sooner or later they return to society”. He also poses a reflection: “The question that arises is in which shape we want them back?”

 

 

Written By:

Pedro Leal is a freelance journalist, currently based in Wales. He wrote on human rights and social issues for Brazilian newspapers and news sites, working with minority rights and social inequality.

Scheila Silveira lives in the Brazil-Germany skybridge. She is a public affairs specialist working with sustainability, corporate social responsibility and social management.

Photo Credits: Jack Two, Osvaldoeaf, Blog do Milton Jung, Tanozzo

 

Being a “stranger” – a hidden story in The Netherlands

The Netherlands is often celebrated for its wide-spread tolerance and is generally regarded as a progressive and multicultural country. Less well known is that the Netherlands has been under attack by Amnesty International and the United Nations for years because of the Dutch immigration policy. Fenne van Loon examines the situation for Pandeia.

In order to protect the Dutch economy, not everyone is granted asylum by the government, leading to illegal immigrants who are referred to as “vreemdelingen” (strangers). Strangers often do not possess any documents, which makes it difficult to send them back, but also impossible to grant them asylum. What happens to strangers that are stuck in between?

According to Dutch law and international treaties, the detention of immigrants who seek a future should be a last resort. However, detention has slowly transformed into standard procedure. For humanitarian reasons, any activity of integration is actively discouraged, as this could only increase hope where there is none. Yet, it seems this system is increasingly taken too far, leading to harrowing situations that can be said to cross moral boundaries of humanity. It is therefore no surprise the lives of strangers are often hidden from society.

Behind closed doors
Some of these hiding places are the four detention centres in the Netherlands. The website of the Ministry of Justice and Safety provides a list of rules for visitors. “Physical contact: It is possible to engage in brief physical contact during the greeting and saying goodbye. During the visit more physical contact is prohibited”. This easily sets the tone of the place.

Zembla produced a documentary (De gevangenen van gebouw 4, 2012) examining the detention centre in Zeist. Through extremely strict access to the detention center, it is clear that the Netherlands officials prefer to keep the ongoings of the detention center hidden from the public eye. Once finally inside, strict rules apply. Neither filming nor interviews are allowed with the strangers or the employees.

The crew reports stuffy air that causes headaches, skin conditions and breathing problems for the immigrants. Two years earlier the health inspection officially stated the air quality was unacceptable. Nothing changed. If anything, the quality has gotten worse since new rules stated all doors must be closed for security. Doctors say it is absurd that pregnant women are living there and the building should be closed.

The use of isolation rooms is another issue. Doctors continuously say the use of isolation rooms is harmful. Everyone will become confused or even turn mad if locked up long enough. Still, a man suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was locked in an isolation room for ten days. The doctor was not surprised the man suffered from another psychosis after that. Acute medical health care is lacking shockingly often. As the health inspector voices, “We are a decent country, we even have animal police.” That is why the lack of a humane treatment for these people astounds him and many others.

Getting the message across
The documentary was made two years ago, pledging for improvements in the system and specifically drastic changes in detention centres. However, this did not help to prevent the Russian asylum seeker Dolmotov from committing suicide in detention one year later. Several investigations concluded, all too late that Dolmotov was placed in a detention centre on false grounds. Also, his suicidal thoughts should have been taken more seriously.

F. Daniëls, former chaplain of the detention centre, breaks the silence by stating that detention centres destroy any feeling of humanity. “By saying to someone he is absolutely not welcome, we don’t want to see you here, you are destroying him. They are no longer seen as people, but as an object that needs to be discharged as quickly as possible. And these people end up feeling exactly that way.”

Many immigrants in detention centres experience a sense of hopelessness, become suicidal or lose their minds. Kaba, an ex-detainee, explains in the Zembla documentary how it drove him insane. “You don’t know when you’ll get out of prison. And you didn’t even do anything wrong.” Even though the detention centres are meant to be a last short stop before people are deported, Kaba was stuck there for nine months, all the time treated like a criminal. “At least criminals know how long they will be in prison,” he says.

The rules in these centres are strict; there is nothing detainees are allowed to do. Kaba really wishes to integrate, to be part of Dutch society, but he is not given any chance since he is not allowed to stay. He cannot work or follow any form of education. Most of the time he is stuck in the system, and he says he spent his days doing nothing more than simply staring out the window. He became so depressed and desperate when he was locked up in Zeist that that he cut his arms and wrote with his own blood on the walls: “I would like to stay in the Netherlands.”

Surprising Europe (2010) is a nine-part television series documenting the experiences of African immigrants in Europe. Again the isolation room in Zeist is mentioned. “You have to undress, even your underwear. There you sit in pajamas. They have hit me with a stick. They put a foot against my neck. They held me to the ground that way and they tied me,” one man says, speaking to those who might be thinking of migrating from Africa. “Don’t ever go to the Netherlands. You should never come here. Never. If you come here, you must be very, very stupid.” Ultimately, this is the message the Dutch government wants to get across.

Life after detention
The officials’ response is that immigrants may leave prison and country whenever they want, as long as they cooperate. According to several experts, this is a lie. Only 25% of all strangers can be sent back to native countries. Another 25% are sent to a different country and 50% of the people are released to the streets without any documents, risking arrest and imprisonment at any time.

The Human Doc. documentary (Lost lives, 2012) follows several illegal immigrants released onto the streets. One man has been living in the Netherlands for 16 years now, four of them in detention. Officials questioned his nationality, and he was therefore not granted asylum. He has been deported to Liberia seven times, and to Ghana four times, always being sent back to the Netherlands right away. Nobody wants him.

Likewise, an Afghan man is not granted his asylum, despite his wife and children recieving theirs. He is officially labelled “suspicious” because he once served in the Afghan military and is accused of war crimes, though there is no proof. He attempted to prove his innocence by requeting his own criminal trial. It was refused because of insufficient proof, and he still remains a suspect. He cannot work and feels that he is missing out on life throughout this long process. “I lost a quarter of my life. It just disappeared, I didn’t do anything.”

A woman with a baby had 24 hours to leave the Netherlands, but nowhere to go. She voices the myth of safety in Europe saying, “Europe, you think human rights, friendly people. You’re finally safe. Nobody is going to discriminate you, or abuse you. All the things I flew away from. And then you come here, and nothing happens.” Many express that the worst part is the feelings of being unacknowledged, unwanted. Having to move repeatedly, always being sent away, with nowhere to call ‘home’.

In one of the interviews an eight year old girl who was born and has lived her entire life in the Netherlands reveals her biggest wish: “To get a passport.” Only then will her life finally be acknowledged.

The immigration debate remains a difficult dilemma that affects many lives. No country will allow free access to everybody. However, what is happening behind closed doors is steadily transcending the issue from an economical dilemma to a humanitarian disaster.

It’s not a question of immigration – it’s a question of integration

Multiculturalism, cultural exchanges and shared  knowledge can be argued as key factors to an ever developing society. With that in mind, argues Niklas Jakobsson, Sweden should not only be one of the most forward-thinking countries in the world – they should be blowing the other nations out of the water. What’s gone wrong? 

According to official immigration statistics and a national census, 1.5 million of Sweden’s 9.5 million inhabitants were born outside of Sweden. This makes up for 15 per cent of the country’s population – numbers which are nearly unmatched and unrivaled in comparison to the other 205 sovereign states in the world.

Yet the country is following a worrying European trend with far-right parties gaining momentum, creating animosity and displeasure against immigrants and immigration. Unemployment, a rise in violence, an over-representation of immigrants in crime and ‘benefit fraud’ are some of the catch-phrases and slogans used to shove blame and responsibility on immigrants in Sweden.

A key concept in journalism is to have balance, to respect and cover both sides of a story – and in the case of Swedish immigration there are two very clear sides. In Sweden, you are for immigration, or you are against it. Wholeheartedly. There is little – to no – room for a middle-ground, a sensible debate that not only brings out the positive aspects of a liberal immigration policy, but discusses its flaws and where it needs work.

But ponder the possibility that these problems that have arisen in Sweden over the last decade might not have to do with where the immigrants are from, who they bring with them or how easily they are allowed to enter? What if it has to do with the fact that a large portion of immigrants are dropped in to a society that is closed, cold and requires a lot more effort to be integrated in? What if, integrating immigrants from day one will give them a lot more in the long run than just allowing them to enter the country without prerequisites and demands?

A question of figures
According to Swedish Member of Parliament, Hanif Bali, almost 14 per cent of immigrants are unemployed, compared to four percent for ‘native’ Swedes. This is a relatively staggering figure – and a figure that on its own could lead one to believe that it is unwillingness among immigrants to work that is the main issue. The Swedish Criminal Service does not distinguish between Swedish nationals with immigrant decent and Swedish nationals born in the country. However, they do claim that 32 per cent of prisoners in Swedish jails are foreign nationals with 160 nationalities represented. With all the overwhelming statistics put on the table – what should the debate regarding immigration then be?

The debate in Sweden should not revolve around how many immigrants are in prison, how many are unemployed or what benefits they are getting without fulfilling the right requirements. The debate should be about why immigrants are in prison, why immigrants are unemployed and why immigrants feel the need to claim benefits that could be distributed to other people – immigrants or natives – that are in greater need of them.

Because until the underlying issues behind the socioeconomic problems surrounding the Swedish society and its immigration policy are thoroughly investigated, the current downward spiral will only keep going down. The further down the spiral Sweden falls, the closer it will get to a point where there is no turning back – where the built up anger and animosity against immigrants and immigration will cause terrible events like the ones on Utøya, Norway, in 2011.

Lack of cooperation, respect and willingness to improve
Politicians, journalists and the common man should stop talking around each other and start talking to each other. Realizing that both parties have a common ground – the well-being of Sweden – would be the first step towards working together on an extremely complicated issue. But the way that the immigration debate is going only shows a lack of cooperation, respect and willingness to improve.

Unfortunately, the media plays a large role in creating this clear-cut split between pro-or-2265691662_3bae969475_danti-immigration. A predominately left-oriented and humanistic media landscape shapes a narrative that allows for very little debate and alternative opinions. This has led to a surge in ‘free’ online news outlets which ‘highlight’ the ‘problems’ with immigration. In essence, by excluding and taking away the possibility of a healthy debate, the media fuels these websites, giving people on the fence that extra push towards a ‘news outlet’ which only caters to views that highlight negativity with immigration.

In a world where journalism should bring people together, nourish free speech and the right to an opinion, the Swedish media landscape is shooting itself in the foot. It is not only driving people away from reading traditional news, it is a major factor in the downward spiral that the Swedish society is in when it comes to debate surrounding immigration.

In order for Sweden to fully develop and take advantage of all the knowledge and benefits that comes from a cultural exchange and a multicultural society the country must start with embracing that it is not perfect. With every positive comes a negative. The positive will never be fully appreciated until the negative is dealt with. In the case of immigration, the negative is the lack of integration. If every Swede claims to have the country’s best interest at heart, then start by taking a step towards people with a different opinion rather than further distancing yourself. This applies to every politician, journalist and every other person in Sweden that has a single care about the future and prosperity of the country.