Swedish Doctors for Human Rights

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Swedish Doctors for Human Rights
FoundedSept 2014
FounderMarcello Ferrada de Noli
Key people
Marcello Ferrada de Noli (Chairman)

Anders Romelsjö (Vice chairman)
Marita Troye-Blomberg
Alberto Gutierrez
Leif Elinder
Ove B. Johansson
Lena Oske

Armando Popa

Swedish Doctors for Human Rights (SWEDHR) is a Sweden-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that previously researched and published opinion pieces on international affairs, and campaigned in support of doctors and anti-war activists persecuted or imprisoned on issues of civil liberties and freedom of expression. SWEDHR claimed to shed light on "health issues of war crimes & Human Rights abuses worldwide",[1] and it acknowledged to be an “alternative NGO” with regard to mainstream organizations. Ensuing, the views presented in its publications tended to differ from, or contradicted, those of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International Sweden and other organizations. Up to mainly 2019, SWEDHR's primary focus has been the Julian Assange international case.[1] During 2020 and onwards, the focus of the organization has been solely on issues around the Covid-19 pandemic.


Swedish Doctors for Human Rights was founded in September 2014 by Marcello Ferrada de Noli, a Swedish professor emeritus.[2][3] Ferrada de Noli and two other members of the foundation board, Professor Anders Romelsjö[4] and pediatrician doctor Leif Elinder[5] were active in the mainstream media debate of Sweden since before the foundation of SWEDHR. The majority of the organization’s members being medical doctors, but it also included professors and doctors from diverse medical-related disciplines.[6] The organization published a magazine online called The Indicter,[7] which became independent from Swedhr in 2017.[8] The organization ended its activities in January 2020.[9] It explained that after Sweden dropped the legal case against Assange in 2019, and the international focus on the case moved from Sweden to the UK following the extradition requested by the US, Swedhr began to participate in activities of a new international group of doctors called Doctors For Assange, based in London. In December 2019, Doctors For Assange thanked Swedhr “for taking us to over 100 signatories”.[10] As to February 2020, the new group reached “nearly 200 medical professionals”, according to The Washington Times.[11] In September 2020, SWEDHR announced to reassume activities solely focused on issues derived of the implementation of international strategies in combating the Covid-19 pandemic.[12]

Positions taken by SWEDHR[edit]

The organization’s main concern in 2015-2019 has been the Julian Assange case,[13] which Swedish Dagens Nyheter has named first among SWEDHR issues.[14] It participated in appeals to the Swedish authorities and other governments [15][16][17] and to international organizations,[18] addressing human rights and health issues.[19] In 2015, it argued that the prolonged use by Sweden of the European Arrest Warrant on Assange issued in 2010, without a decision of taking the case to court in a reasonable time, would infringe the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,[20] matter later established by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.[21] In 2016 it advocated for asylum to Edward Snowden in the EU.[22]

It also reported on human rights situations in Chile,[23] issues of torture accountability,[24] and investigated civilian casualties of drone attacks in Afghanistan and Yemen.[25] In March 2017, SWEDHR published results of an investigation of two videos the organization Syrian Civil Defense uploaded 2015, showing medical rescue interventions during the Sarmin chemical attack. SWEDHR deemed the procedures as “anti-medical and not-saving”,[26] and presented the findings at a conference of the Club Suisse de la Presse.[27][28] The Syrian ambassador to the UN made use of the SWEDHR allegations at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in April 2017.[14][29] Later that year, SWEDHR questioned the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism report on the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack, claiming that the report “proven inaccurate, politically biased”. The SWEDHR assessment was annexed as official document of the UNSC after proposal by the Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya.[14][30] In 2019, SWEDHR endorsed a complain to the permanent representatives of States parties at the OPCW, on alleged misreporting in the OPCW investigation of the gas attack in Douma, Syria, 2018.[31]

During 2015-2018, SWEDHR advocated against alleged human rights abuses on Swedish cardiologist Fikru Maru, held in custody in Ethiopia until 2018.[32] It also denounced aerial attacks against hospitals run by Médecins Sans Frontières in Afghanistan.[33] The organization has criticized Sweden’s arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemeni Civil War.[34] In 2019, it opposed the Swedish government’s decision of not signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and endorsed “Letter in Defence of World Peace”, protesting US notices of abandoning the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty INFT.[35] In 2015, SWEDHR commented on opinions made by the Swedish Minister of Defense Peter Hultqvist. The minister had stated that “bilateral cooperation with the US is important and it should deepen”,[36] SWEDHR argued “(Minister Hultqvist) had not shown that a deepening of the Sweden-USA cooperation would be better than to instead deepening our neutrality stance.” [37]

Swedhr positions regarding the Covid-19 pandemic have in the main included criticism of what the oprganization has viewed as a discriminatory health-treatment of the elderly population in Sweden, opposing to strategies they say were striving to rapid "herd immunity",[38] and advocating for stricter restrictions, and favoring widespread vaccination.[39]


In 2017-2018, several European mainstream media (MSM) pointed out the frequency Swedhr was interviewed in Russian media, and also criticised the use that Russian authorities and media made of SWEDHR investigations and statements.[40][41][42][14][43] SWEDHR published its respective rebuttals in The Indicter,[44][45][46][47] arguing the MSM criticism did not address the arguments or results of their investigations, but focused in the issue of the several interviews in Russian media in the period. In a statement in the journal of the Swedish Medical Association, Swedhr declared the organization is “absolutely independent” and “we retain the right to freely express opinions on war crimes, violations of human rights and governmental intervention in private life and civil liberties”.[48] In an interview by Swedish newspaper DN 2 April 2018, the Swedhr chairman replied "I stand for what I've said to those channels. These are the same things I would have said to Dagens Nyheter or Svenska Dagbladet".[14]

In April 2017, the results of the Swedhr investigation on the 2015 White Helmets rescuing videos in Sarmin[49] were broadly reported. Some accounts said Swedhr had accused White Helmets of “killing children for fake videos”, which was immediately denied by the organization.[50] Arab News reported 17 April 2017: “The news was based on reports falsely attributed to Swedish doctors. The irony is that this fake news that has continued to spread, even after the Swedish organization attributed and linked to the report refuted it. In a published statement confirming that it analyzed some videos published the White Helmets, SWEDHR did not accuse them of killing children.”[51]

The online publication Coda Story contested the Swedhr investigation on the White Helmets video, and said that a group of doctors “agreed that the individuals in the (White Helmets) video did not appear to be carrying out a resuscitation attempt according to accepted guidelines. All of them however, said it would be impossible to conclude from the brief video that the scene was staged.”[52] In its rebuttal, Swedhr pointed out that only one of the doctors in the group of five referred in the Coda Story article was identified. It also challenged Coda Story to organize an open international panel of medical experts to assess the Swedhr conclusions.[47]


  1. ^ Half of the 42 articles published in SWEDHR’s earlier Research & Reports centred around the case of Julian Assange in Sweden. Predominant among the half rest were the subjects “Torture”, respectively “War crimes”. Of the 205 articles published in The Indicter Magazine, 88 are on the Assange case alone, or 43 percent of all articles. Source: "SWEDHR and the Julian Assange case"
  2. ^ Professorn har seglat i farliga farvatten”, 23 July 2008, Dagens Nyheter
  3. ^ “Fångläger till finsal”, 25 July 2013, Ystads Allehanda
  4. ^ Anders Romelsjö, Dagens Nyheter
  5. ^ Leif Elinder, Göteborgs-Posten
  6. ^ "Founding Board of Directors – Swedish Doctors for Human Rights". swedhr.org. Retrieved 2020-03-01.
  7. ^ The Indicter
  8. ^ The Indicter. Editorial Board
  9. ^ Swedhr homepage (retrieved 29 March 2020)
  10. ^ Doctors for Assange on Twitter. 11 December 2019. [1]
  11. ^ The Washington Times. 18 March 2020. 'Doctors for Assange' seek release of WikiLeaks founder over coronavirus concerns. [2]
  12. ^ Statement of SWEDHR Board of Directors: "In view of the Covid-19 pandemic in Sweden, (Swedhr) decided in September 2020 to re-assume the SWEDHR activities, particularly on behalf of the humans rights of Swedish elderly. The activity of SWEDHR in this new period is solely devoted to issues around the pandemic, and includes analysis on the vaccine issue, and also the discussing and proposals of estrategies in the international combat against the pandemic."[3]
  13. ^ SWEDHR and the Julian Assange case
  14. ^ a b c d e Dagens Nyheter, 2 April 2018. Svensk grupp i rysk propaganda om giftattacken på spion
  15. ^ Aftonbladet, 26 February 2020. "Regeringen, kräv att Julian Assange friges"
  16. ^ Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DIEM 25), 3 June 2016 [4]
  17. ^ World Socialist Web Site, 17 Dec 2019, Doctors issue open letter to the Australian government: Julian Assange at risk of death in prison
  18. ^ Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). “Joint Submission for the United Kingdom's Universal Periodic Review in 2017”, Doc. A/HRC/7/4/Add.1 at 40 (2007). Republished by Courage Foundation: [5]
  19. ^ The Lancet, 12 February 2020. “End torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange”, [6] [7]
  20. ^ NewsVoice, 5 April 2016: "According to the UN International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights, Assange’s detention should be ended"
  21. ^ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD), 4 December 2015. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Deems the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Julian Assange as arbitrary
  22. ^ Västerbottens-Kuriren, 14 October 2015. Se över kriterierna för asyl
  23. ^ Truthout, 13 Nov 2019: Chileans Face State Repression as They Continue Revolt Against Neoliberalism: “The organization Swedish Doctors for Human Rights has compiled 80 videos of serious human rights abuses by Chilean security forces since the protests started in October (2019)”
  24. ^ NewsVoice, 25 April 2015. “An updated estimation of civil casualties killed by drone strikes – An injury-epidemiology & human rights report”.
  25. ^ NewsVoice, 25 May 2015. Torture and Lack of Accountability but American Public not Responsible for Drone Assassinations
  26. ^ Dagbladet Arbejderen, 26 April 2017. De Hvide Hjelmes propaganda er farlig
  27. ^ Club Suisse de la Presse (Geneva Press Club), 28 November 2017. “They don’t care about us”. White Helmets true agenda
  28. ^ Tribune de Genève, 28 November 2017. (“Disident voices at the Geneva Press Club”) “Des voix dissidentes s'expriment au Club suisse de la presse”. [8]
  29. ^ United Nations UNSC 7922nd meeting, Wednesday, 12 April 2017
  30. ^ United Nations Security Council, 15 February 2018. Document A/72/652–S/2017/1010
  31. ^ 8 November 2019. "Open Letter to Permanent Representatives of States Parties at OPCW."
  32. ^ Dagens Medicine, 13 March 2014 (Open doctors' support to Fikru Maru). [9]
  33. ^ Dagens Medicine, 6 October 2015 ”En skarp protest mot detta oförlåtliga dödande”
  34. ^ The Local (Sweden), 26 February 2018. Swedish arms exports topped 11 billion kronor last year
  35. ^ Kaosenlared, 17 Feb 2019. Carta en Defensa de la Paz Mundial
  36. ^ Dagens Nyheter, 31 August 2015. DN Debatt. ”Sveriges militära samarbete med USA måste fördjupas”
  37. ^ Dagens Nyheter, 3 September 2015. DN Debatt. ”Sverige riskerar bli förstahandsmål”
  38. ^ COVID-19: The Case Against Herd Immunity
  39. ^ "Marcello Ferrada de Noli, profesor de epidemiología: "La estrategia sueca ha resultado en un fracaso concluyente"". 9 July 2020.
  40. ^ Der Spiegel, 21 December 2017. Russlands perfider Feldzug gegen die Wahrheit
  41. ^ Le Figaro. Paris, 13 April 2017. En Russie, une curieuse thèse reprise pour exonérer Damas (“In Russia, a curious thesis arises to exculpate Damascus”)
  42. ^ Dagens Nyheter, 21 April 2017. Gasattacker förnekas med hjälp från svensk läkargrupp
  43. ^ Libération, 3 May 2018. Russia Today, Sputnik… un mois d’intox passé au crible
  44. ^ The Indicter, 15 April 2017. "Mainstream journalists angered by SWEDHR denounce of unethical war propaganda. Reply to Le Figaro"
  45. ^ The Indicter, 22 December 2017. "Swedish Professors and Doctors for Human Rights (SWEDHR) respond to Der Spiegel"
  46. ^ The Indicter, 22 April 2017. "Reply to Dagens Nyheter assault on Swedish Doctors for Human Rights"
  47. ^ a b The Indicter, 7 February 2020. "Interference by journalists on sovereign opinions of professors, academics, and independent researchers, comprise infringements to Art 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights"
  48. ^ Läkartidningen, 9 June 2017. SWEDHR är en oberoende organisation
  49. ^ SWEDHR, 6 and 17 March 2017. "SWEDHR analysis of the White Helmets video of Sarmin 2015"
  50. ^ The Indicter, 8 April 2017. Statement by Swedish Professors & Doctors for Human Rights on misrepresentations referred in Veterans Today article on White Helmets
  51. ^ Arab News, 18 April 2017. Propaganda, lies and videos: Russian media and the Khan Sheikhun massacre
  52. ^ Coda Story, 2 May 2017 "Russia Used a Two-Year-Old Video and an 'Alternative' Swedish Group to Discredit Reports of Syria Gas Attack"

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