Sweden Studying Options to Ban Begging
Sweden’s Civic and Local Government Minister Ardalan Shekarabi has said that the government could ban begging, thelocal.se has reported.
“Hundreds of people from the Roma communities of Bulgaria and Romania currently travel to Sweden to beg on the streets,” the Swedish news outlet recalled on Friday.
Ardalan Shekarabi, under pressure from local politicians alarmed by the spread of begging to small towns, explained: “It is natural at this stage to note that we have a problem, and that is very clear when I meet local politicians.”
However, a ban on begging could open a rift in the governing coalition, according to thelocal.se. The Green Party, junior partners in the Social Democrat-led coalition, have signalled immediately that they will oppose making begging a criminal offence.
Thelocal.se noted that Sweden has so far tried to tackle the problem of begging by reaching agreements with Romania and Bulgaria to improve the situation of their Roma population.
“Yet still the begging continues, and our position is that begging in Sweden is no solution to the discrimination, poverty and social exclusion in the countries in question,” the local.se quoted Shekarabi as saying on a visit toIceland where he was discussing with ministers from other Nordic countries how they had tackled the issue of begging.
There were between 3,400 and 4,100 beggars in Sweden from other EU countries, mostly from Bulgaria and Romania, according to a survey conducted by Swedish public TV broadcaster SVT in April last year. The 2014 figure was less than half of that.
A Swedish court sentenced two Bulgarian brothers to jail terms earlier this year for running a begging scheme that involved exploitation of disabled and illiterate people.
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