Alternative report to the un human Rights Committee regarding Norway’s sixth Periodic report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights December 2010



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Ratification of OPCAT


116




Norway claim to take the lead in matters concerning human rights, and in particular in the work of combating torture. Despite this, Norway has yet to take an official position as to whether to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment. For years it has been said that ratification is “right around the corner”, inter alia to the UNCAT in 2007 and on occasion of the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review in 2009.

Recommendations to Norway:

Norway should as a matter of urgency ratify the Optional Protocol and ensure that a National Preventive Mechanism is established as soon as possible, following the general guidelines for such a preventive body. We recommend that to ensure the independence, integrity and credibility of the body to be established, both the process of its design, and the method of appointment of its members, should be open to non-state actors, including Human Rights organizations and other stakeholders.

ICCPR Art.

Subject

State Report para.

Keyword


7

Norwegian Corporations contribution to torture abroad


Not mentioned

Reported cases not prosecuted

Norwegian NGOs have tried to focus on Norwegian corporations` responsibility for possible contribution to torture abroad. The Norwegian authorities have not been willing to do anything that could efficiently prevent such activity, for instance legal sanctions. It is therefore symptomatic of the Government’s approach that its report does not deal with this issue.

In a white paper to Parliament21 about corporations’ responsibilities in a globalized economy, the Government does not propose any sanctions to corporations that contribute to torture abroad. Complaints about corporations in this respect may be sent to the Norwegian National Contact Point, an OECD-procedure. This office may make critical remarks, but there is no possibility of sanctions.

 A case in point is the complaint from some NGOs about the Norwegian corporation Aker/Kværner`s involvement – through a subsidiary – in the Guantanamo prison camp. Having considered the complaint, the Norwegian National Contact Point made critical remarks about the situation, but there were no sanctions against the corporation. Amnesty International Norway therefore reported Aker/Kværner to the prosecuting authorities, which refused to investigate the matter. The prosecuting authorities held that, even though the subsidiary was wholly owned by Aker/Kværner, the parent company was not responsible or liable for the actions of its subsidiary.

In our opinion, it is unacceptable that a company is not responsible for the actions of wholly owned subsidiaries. The motivation to start a commercial activity will usually be profits, and the parent company should not have the possibility to have only advantages of the activity and not the responsibility for the disadvantages, especially when there are suspicions regarding torture.



We recommend to the Committee to ask Norway:

  • Will the State Party establish and make effective Norwegian corporations` responsibility for possible contribution to torture abroad through investigations and sanctions?

  • What will the state party do to ensure that such responsibility applies to subsidiaries of Norwegian corporations as well?

ICCPR Article 8


ICCPR Art.

Subject

State Report para.

Keyword

8

Trafficking


117-121

Forced labor; Children; Protection of witnesses in cases against traffickers

The government’s current action plan on trafficking has expired, and no new action plan has yet been proposed. In our experience, the government’s focus on forms of exploitation is chiefly concerned with prostitution. The existing remedial measures, such as the right to shelter in a safe house, are directed at women exploited in prostitution. We are not aware of concrete measures to reveal or prevent the form of exploitation known as forced labour. There have been only a few cases in Norwegian courts concerning forced labour. Norway has had a large influx of labour from Eastern Europe and other parts of the world. Based on the cases so far we are concerned about the prevalence of forced labour. It is regrettable that the Norwegian government has not put together a coordinated effort to reveal and help victims of forced labour.

Despite three action plans during the last decade there is still little progress in identifying and protect children who are victims of trafficking. The fact that children are seldom identified as victims should be given greater attention by the Norwegian government. There is a strong need to build competencies and to strengthen national coordinated structures to be able to identify and reach out to victims and adequately protect them. To meet existing challenges it is therefore strongly recommended that a separate resource center for children exposed to all forms of trafficking is set up, with the mandate to protect children for a shorter period, prior to the interference by the child welfare system. This would also enable the documentation of cases and assist in revealing the extent of trafficking in Norway in all its forms.

It is commendable that permanent protection can be granted to victims of trafficking who testify against their alleged perpetrators in court, under the Immigration Act. In our experience from concrete cases, the Act is practised in a very strict manner. Possible retribution from the traffickers and re-trafficking are major problems for victims of human trafficking. However, in our experience it is too difficult for victims of trafficking to prove that they are in danger of reprisal from traffickers. As a result, relatively few victims are given protection as refugees and on humanitarian grounds.

Furthermore, such protection is only granted to victims and not to other groups of witnesses in proceedings against traffickers. It is often due to chance whether a trafficked person receives status as victim or only as a witness in the case, e.g. how the prosecuting authority considers the evidence in the case. Therefore, it is not predictable for a victim whether he or she will receive permanent protection in Norway. For this reason many victims do not press charges against traffickers.

In several Police districts it is an additional problem that human trafficking is not always a priority. As an example, several lawyers have criticised the Oslo Police Department for allocating insufficient resources to tackle human trafficking. It is often beyond the control of the victim whether or not the Public Prosecution Service will make investigation a priority. The victim would again fall outside the new section of the Penal Code concerning permanent residency for the offended who give evidence in a criminal case against traffickers. There are exemption clauses, but they are narrow, and they are practised in a strict manner.



We recommend to the Committee to ask Norway:

  • What measures to identify and strengthen the protection against forced labor exist or are being considered to combat forced labor?

  • What kind of specific measures to identify and strengthen the protection of children exist or are being considered to combat the trafficking of children?

  • Will steps to taken to offer refugee protection to all victims of trafficking who testify against their traffickers regardless of their status in the case and regardless of the efficiency of police investigation and prosecution decisions?

Recommendations to Norway:

  • The Government should formulate a new action plan against trafficking. The new action plan should not only focus on trafficking for prostitution, but also contain concrete measures to combat trafficking for other purposes and specific groups, including forced labor.




  • A renewed action plan on trafficking should include stronger measures to identify and protect children and build competencies about children exposed to all forms of trafficking by establishing a separate resource center.




  • Permanent protection in Norway should be granted to any person who gives evidence in a criminal case against traffickers. Neither the judicial status of the person during the proceedings nor the outcome of the case should be made a condition for granting permanent protection.




  • The Police districts should allocate sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute any evidence of human trafficking.



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