1. general information about norway 1 A. Geographical, economic, demographic, social and cultural indicators 1

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Equal rights for persons with disabilities

  1. The Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Acts prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and contains provisions on universal design and individual accommodation.

  1. Many people with disabilities encounter obstacles in their daily lives due to lack of accessibility in their physical surroundings. Accessibility is crucial for ensuring full participation in society. The Government is systematically seeking to improve accessibility by promoting universal design.

  1. The Government’s action plan for universal design and better accessibility for the period 2009–2013 is intended to support the implementation of the Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act, universal design in the Planning and Building Act and other legislation that safeguards the rights of people with disabilities. The priority areas are outdoor areas, planning, buildings, transport and ICT (Information and Communication Technology). The Government is also promoting universal design in workplaces in the public sector and in private enterprises that offer goods and services to the general public.

  1. Equal rights for ethnic minorities

  1. The Anti-Discrimination Act on ethnicity regulates protection against discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, religion and belief.

The Government firmly believes that all forms of racism, discrimination and harassment must be prevented. Every citizen is responsible for combating unjustified differential treatment. However, the authorities and the majority population have a greater responsibility than others. Discrimination may be experienced by all population groups and in all areas of society. However, discrimination is not always implemented by the majority population against the minority population. Prejudice, scepticism, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination occur between and within minority groups, and may also be directed towards the majority population.

  1. Studies show that people from ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable to discrimination. Many complaints handled by the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud have to do with ethnic discrimination in connection with working life and the public administration. Hate crime that targets minority groups is another challenge. Although the police receive few reports of hate crime, there is reason to believe that the true figures are much higher.

  1. To be effective, the fight against racism and discrimination requires a continuous, systematic effort. The Government has strengthened its work in this field by developing an action plan for the 2009–2012 period to promote equality and prevent ethnic discrimination. The action plan, extended throughout 2013, focuses on discrimination based on the ethnicity, national origin, descent, skin colour, language, religion or beliefs of immigrants and their children, the Sami people and the national minorities.

  1. The action plan includes 66 new measures with particular focus on working life, public services, day-care and education, and the housing market, and discrimination in restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion is coordinating the implementation of the action plan, which involves nine ministries. During the period covered by the plan, the Government will collaborate with the eight main social partners on implementing the measures to prevent discrimination in working life.

  1. One of the key objectives of the action plan is to ensure that the new provisions relating to anti-discrimination activities and reporting in the Anti-Discrimination Act on ethnicity are properly followed up. Another key objective is to increase knowledge on the nature, scope and causes of discrimination with a view to initiating more targeted measures.

  1. Indigenous peoples

  1. The Sami are the indigenous people of Norway. The Sami traditionally live in the northern and eastern parts of Norway, and in parts of Sweden, Finland and Russia.

  1. Norwegian policy towards the Sami is based on the recognition that the state of Norway was established on the territory of two peoples, the Norwegians and the Sami, and that both these peoples have the same right to develop their culture and language.

  1. There is no overall registration of the Sami population. It is therefore difficult to generate statistics on the Sami as a group. However, the number of Sami living in Norway is generally estimated at approximately 40 000.

  1. The rights of the Sami are protected under Article 110a in the Norwegian Constitution, which states that “it is the responsibility of the authorities of the State to create conditions enabling the Sami people to preserve and develop their language, culture and way of life.” The rights of the Sami are also protected in more specific provisions in the Act concerning Sámediggi (the Sami parliament) and other Sami legal matters (the Sami Act), in other legislation, and through Norway’s obligations under several international conventions, particularly Article 27 of the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and ILO Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries.

  1. The Sami have their own parliament, Sámediggi, which was established in 1989 under the Sami Act. It is a representative and elected political body for the Sami in Norway, in particular as a party in the dialogue with central government. The business of Sámediggi is any matter that in the view of the parliament particularly affects the Sami people. Approximately 15 000 Sami are registered on the electoral roll for elections to Sámediggi.

  1. In recent years, policies towards the Sami have given priority to recognising and strengthening minority and indigenous rights and on development of an infrastructure of institutions in Sami society. Legislation, procedures and programmes have been established to strengthen the Sami languages, culture, industries and society. Of particular importance are the Finnmark Act, the Procedures for Consultations between the State Authorities and Sámediggi and the Plan of Action for Strengthening Sami Languages.

  1. As an indigenous people, the Sami are entitled to be consulted on matters that may affect them directly. Sámediggi and the central government authorities have concluded an agreement on how these consultations are to be carried out in the Procedures for Consultations between the State Authorities and Sámediggi of 11 May 2005. In some matters the authorities may also be obliged to consult with other Sami interests in addition to Sámediggi, particularly in matters that directly affect Sami land use, such as reindeer husbandry.

  1. In 2005 the Storting adopted the Finnmark Act. Through the Finnmark Act, ownership rights to areas in Finnmark County to which the state either held formal title or was considered owner without formal title (about 95% of Finnmark County) were transferred to an independent entity, the Finnmark Estate (“Finnmarkseiendommen”). A board consisting of six members, three of whom are appointed by Sámediggi and three by the Finnmark County Council, governs the Finnmark Estate. The Act also regulates the local population and other people’s use of certain natural resources on the Finnmark Estate’s grounds.

  1. The Finnmark Act confirms that the Sami have, collectively and individually, acquired rights to the land in Finnmark through prolonged use of land and water areas. It follows explicitly from the act that it does not interfere with any rights acquired by Sami and other people through prescription or immemorial usage. To clarify the existence of such rights, the act prescribes the establishment of the Finnmark Commission. The Commission’s task is to investigate rights of use and ownership to the land that was transferred to the Finnmark Estate through the Finnmark Act. As of August 2013, the Commission has completed its investigations in two geographical fields, and is currently working on another four fields. Disputes that arise after the Commission has finished its investigations in a field may be brought before the Uncultivated Land Tribunal for Finnmark. The Tribunal is currently under establishment. The judgments of the Tribunal may be appealed to the Norwegian Supreme Court.

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