More research grants to the Faculty of Law

27 January 2022

Doctors of Law Gustaf Almkvist, Mikael Ruotsi and Jonatan Schytzer have been awarded research grants for their respective research projects from the Torsten Söderberg Foundation and the Foundation for Jurisprudential Research.

Gustaf Almkvist was granted approximately SEK 1.6 million by the Foundation for Jurisprudential Research for his project “Forbidden fruit – on money laundering as a criminal law construction”. The funds are intended to finance two years of a postdoctoral appointment at the Faculty of Law in Uppsala.

Mikael Ruotsi received SEK 1.6 million from the same Foundation for a two-year postdoctoral appointment with the project “The Constitution as a safeguard for democracy and the rule of law – constitutional amendments and judicial review”.

Jonatan Schytzer was awarded SEK 980,000 by the Torsten Söderberg Foundation for his project “The bankrupt environment”.

Summary of each project

Gustaf Almkvist:
The desire to make money is the main driving force behind almost all serious and organised crime. However, once crimes such as drug offences, human trafficking, bribery or fraud have actually been committed, the perpetrators must ensure that the proceeds of the crimes are secured. Measures to bring money derived from crime into the legal economy are called money laundering. Over the last 20 years, a feverish international cooperative effort to combat money laundering has led to new legislation in many countries, not least in Sweden. The legislation deals with prevention, for example in banks, as well as criminal law legislation for money launderers. Since 2014, when the Swedish criminal legislation came into force, more and more people have been charged with money laundering every year There is a great need for a deeper analysis of money laundering legislation in the Swedish context. What does a money-laundering measure actually consist of, if we are to be more precise? What does it mean that the money should ‘originate from crime’ once the money has changed hands a few times? It is also possible to see clear tendencies among the police not to investigate the underlying crime, but instead focus on the unexplained assets discovered in various contexts. This raises a number of fundamental and constitutional issues, which must also be related to international developments and the way in which money laundering legislation is implemented in other countries. The aim of the project is to achieve a greater understanding of the money laundering regulation in Sweden and to contribute something to the international discussion based on this.

Mikael Ruotsi:
Constitutional democracies around the world are in crisis. The last ten years have been marked by the dismantling of the rule of law, in particular in countries belonging to the former Eastern Bloc. European countries that have previously been regarded as relatively stable democracies are under pressure. It cannot either be assumed that the Swedish form of government is immune from this development. In light of this global and regional context, this project is exploring the legal possibilities for protecting the fundamental principles of the Swedish form of government as set out in Chapter 1 of the Instrument of Government. Based on the concept of ‘militant constitutionalism’, the following overarching questions are being explored: How can the constitution’s rules on amendments to the constitution and the possibilities of judicial review of constitutional amendments constitute a protection of the democratic rule of law? The project explores a number of fundamental but complex constitutional choices. How should rules on amendments to the constitution in the Swedish context be designed to achieve a reasonable balance between stability and flexibility? To what extent should amendments to the constitution affecting the rights and freedoms of individuals or the distribution of power between the legislature, the executive and the courts be subject to judicial review? Which bodies should carry out this judicial review of amendments to the constitution? What role can and should the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights play in the protection of the rule of law?

Jonatan Schytzer:
In Sweden, we have recently had several instances where persons and companies have profited by the expense of the environment. The actors have committed to take care of waste, but instead of complying with current regulations, black mass from ground batteries has been buried in fields, toxic waste has been dumped in the vicinity of water sources. Waste has been handled so carelessly that fires have broken out at waste facilities. Waste has become a commodity in the criminal underworld. We can talk about waste gangsters. Some of these persons have received lengthy prison sentences and had to pay damages. However, the problem is that there is a lack of money to clean up the environment. The companies have been declared bankrupt, which short-circuits the environmental law system since it is based on the polluter pays principle. In these cases, there are no funds to clean up the environment. It can be said that the environment goes bankrupt. It is precisely this problem that I want to investigate and propose solutions to in the project.”

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