Alternatives to detention


Country Report: Alternatives to detention Last updated: 30/04/24


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Supervision is an alternative measure that may be used instead of detention.[1] Authorities are obliged to consider supervision before deciding on detention. Even though this should always be done by the decision body, there have been concerns raised as to the lack of extensive and qualitative argumentation as to why inter alia supervision is not used instead of detention.[2] Concerns have been raised been raised by several actors in 2020, including by the Parliamentary Ombudsman (JO), including inter alia on insufficient use of supervision as an alternative to detention, placement of detainees in prison or police facilities and a lack of sufficient proportionality assessments.[3]

Supervision entails regular reporting to the police or to the Swedish Migration Agency, depending on which authority is responsible for the decision. It may also entail surrendering passports or other identity documents.[4] Similarly to detention, supervision in the asylum context is rarely used during ongoing asylum procedures and when it is used it is mainly applied in relation to applicants in Dublin procedures or applicants who are undergoing a new procedure following a subsequent application.  In 2023, a total of 155 supervision decisions were taken by the Migration Agency, an increase from 108 decisions in 2022.[5]

On 5 February 2020, the Migration Court of Appeal expressed that, in order for supervision to be used as an alternative to detention, there must be a ground for detention in accordance with the Aliens Act – and that that ground must be in compliance with the Returns Directive.[6]

Supervision is the only alternative to detention and it is used both for adults and children.




[1] Ch. 10, Section 6 Aliens Act.

[2] Swedish Red Cross, Förvar under lupp, June 2019, available in Swedish at: See also comparative study on use of alternatives to detention, where Sweden was one of the studied countries: Odysseus Network, Alternatives to immigration and asylum detention in the EU. Time for implementation, 2015, available at:

[3] Swedish Refugee Law Center, Hur ser regelverket ut när det gäller förvar i Sverige och finns det problem med hur det tillämpas?, Rapport om Förvar av juriststudenterna Cecilia Alpin och Arvid Skagerlind vid Uppsala Universitet inom ramen för en människorättsklinik, 22 April 2020, available in Swedish here:

[4] Ch. 10, Section 8 Aliens Act.

[5] Information provided by the Migration Agency’s statistics unit.

[6] Migration Court of Appeal, MIG 2020:2, 5 February 2020, available in Swedish at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX – I Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation