The Swedish Freedom of the Press Ordinance from 1766

27 mars 2023 0 av Jonas Nordin

Much of my research in later years have been about the early Swedish experiences of freedom of the press. Sweden was in fact the first country in the world where freedom of the press was protected in constitutional law. Of course, this was, at times, a less glorious and much more complicated history than one might suspect at first glance — politics is often a nasty business. It is nevertheless an interesting episode, also in international context.

In 2016, the 250th anniversary of the Freedom of the Press Ordinance was widely celebrated in Sweden, and the jubilee also caught international attraction. I was the guest at several international conferences in England, Finland, France, USA and Scotland, where freedom of the press and public access to official documents (offentlighetsprincipen) in Sweden was discussed.

As a part of this international interest, translators Ian Giles and Peter Graves made a much needed new rendition of the 1766 Freedom of the Press Ordinance into English. It is distributed with a CC BY license, and we published it on a campaign website hosted by The National Library of Sweden, where I was employed at the time. However, a few years ago The National Library stopped maintaining this website and I do not know where the translation can be found and downloaded today. For convenience, I am therefore uploading it here, free to reuse:

His Majesty’s Gracious Ordinance Regarding the Freedom of Writing and of the Press, 2 December 1766, translated by Ian Giles & Peter Graves.