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Greeting from New Chairman Brita Sundberg-Weitman

From the citizens rights magazine Medborgarrätt 1994.


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Brita Sundberg-Weitman assumed chairmanship of the Citizens Rights Movement in 1994. Here she introduces herself to the readership and speaks of their founder Gustaf Petrén who was a good friend of her father, also a champion of civil rights like herself, her brother, and her father.

I came to know Gustaf Petrén early on. He worked with my father Halvar GF Sundberg, amongst other things with the publication of constitution commentary. My father and Gustaf Petrén were similar in many regards. Both were deeply involved in justice as a defence for the individual against the institution and both were strong brilliant personalities and both could express themselves with an elegance touched with an bit of playfulness.

1969-70 I had the privilege of working with Gustaf Petrén. He was then substitute justice ombudsman and I, who at the time was appeals court assessor, served as researcher in his office. I remember one tricky case about a ferry and another about dogs.

When Gustaf Petrén founded the Swedish Citizens Rights Movement 20 years ago, I was living outside the country. I think it was in 1980 when at a dinner I asked Gustaf how one joined his organisation - and he immediately offered me a seat on the board of directors. Together we designed a number of consultation responses. As at the office of the justice ombudsman, it was a stimulating and educational experience.

I began writing writing newspaper articles in the early 1970s. At the time I was working on my PhD thesis on the Treaty of Rome's prohibition of discrimination on the basis of nationality and in that way became at home with the distinct legal approach used by the European Union and built up with the influence especially of French, German, and Benelux jurisprudence. Gustaf Petrén kindly read my thesis before it went to the printers and that felt comforting.

The Citizens Rights Movement, which for many years has had to manage without Gustaf Petrén, has during the past year undergone a painful adjustment which means we no longer have salaried staff.

Allan Ekström was forced to close the offices last year and had a difficult time, which is why he declined to stay on as chairman and will instead devote himself to community politics. Thank you for your contributions, Allan! They help us start anew again.

We want to work concertedly to spread the message of the Citizens Rights Movement. Not in the least it's about increasing people's knowledge of their rights. We want to achieve a judicial and humanist way of thinking that permeates governmental work so citizens feel like true citizens and are aware of what they can - and should - demand from the government.

What we should otherwise think about Sweden joining the EU - and I presume there are differing opinions amongst our members - the European court, much more than we are used to in Sweden, protects individuals against government institutions.

Our message can be spread in different ways: through this magazine, through consultation responses, through participation in the debates in the newspapers, through seminars. These annual seminars held in honour of Gustaf Petrén have been a success - and have been patronised by our country's most influential jurists.

We should at the same time not underestimate the opposition. There are strong forces to confront here. These forces want us to believe that rights abuses shouldn't be taken seriously but seen as mere accidents in the workplace.

Forces for the good must work together. Don't let us waste our judicial heritage!

Abuse of power and rights cannot be fully rooted out but must be kept at the lowest level possible. Such things can never be tolerated.

Brita Sundberg-Weitman

If I am able to reveal what I know, everyone will realise this is all a charade. If I could tell the British courts, I suspect it would make extradition a moot point.
 - Björn Hurtig

I can tell you that the Swedish prosecution still hasn't provided copies of those SMS texts that have been referred to. Those texts are some of the most powerful exculpatory evidence. In Australia prosecutors have a very grave duty to disclose such evidence to courts when seeking the grave exercise of a court's power against an individual. Yet in Sweden in this case, in the first hearings to obtain an arrest warrant, those texts were not submitted to the Swedish court, which is highly improper.
 - James Catlin

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