Common perceptions of Sweden seldom include images of ill treatment and torture. However, human rights reports published by Amnesty Int'l and the US State Dept. describe recurring allegations of ill treatment and torture perpetrated by security forces in Sweden. What explains this unexpected case of human rights abuse? The answer to this question reveals an important theoretical concept that has not previously been discussed in human rights documentation and measurement projects: the level of institutional transparency. We provide evidence of the process by which the bureaucracy in Sweden ensures an extremely high level of transparency about allegations of human rights abuse by government agents. We argue that this transparency likely varies systematically over time but especially across countries. The major implication of our study therefore travels beyond Sweden: documentation and measurement projects that do not account for differential levels of transparency of government institutions may not be comparable across cases, possibly introducing bias to cross-sectional comparisons.