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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The new Immigration Act of 2008 section 106 carries on the human rights problems of the old act by giving no maximum time for detaining a foreign national, who is considered to give false information about his identity. There is no condition for the detention that the foreigner has committed any criminal acts. It is sufficient that the police and the court find reasons to believe that the foreigner gives false information. On this basis there have been cases in which the person has been detained for more than one year23, even 18 months24.

The Government presents statistics showing that the number of detainees at Trandum by administrative decision is many times the number detained by court decision25. Since the maximum time for detaining a person without court decision is 72 hours under Norwegian law and as this applies also for persons detained at Trandum, it is necessary to have statistics about the detention time for all detainees at Trandum, including the eventual detention time spent in police arrest and prison. The Norwegian Bar Association has asked for such statistics, and the Police26 have now responded. The reply came only after the Police was reported to the Ombudsman for lack of response. In the reply, dated 29 November 2010, the Police states that they do not keep statistics on persons detained at Trandum without a judicial review / court decision. Without such statistics it is impossible to monitor whether the Government is in compliance with the 72-hour rule.



ICCPR Art.

Subject

State Report para.

Keyword

7 (9)

Imprisonment of foreign nationals


141-148

 Lack of coordination between Police units / Duration of imprisonment / Quality of legal defense

The various Police units do not coordinate their individual assignments related to foreigners who serve prison sentences and are to be transported out of the country. Often the preparation for the deportations does not begin until the prison sentence is served. The effect is that these foreigners are detained for additional weeks until the deportations are carried out. This state of affairs could be avoided if the Police started preparing for the deportations before the foreign prisoners had finished serving their sentence. This deprivation of liberty should therefore be totally unnecessary.

When cases regarding additional detention are brought before the Courts, the Police do not inform the Court about the defence lawyer chosen by the detainee, and the lawyer is not informed about the detention case. The Police often do not allow detainees to contact their original lawyer when detained27. Because the Courts do not know about the lawyer chosen by the detainee, they will appoint another, who will not have the same knowledge about the detainee and the criminal case. The detainee is usually informed about a new defence lawyer right before the detention case is due for court hearing, and may only then ask to be assisted by the original defence lawyer which is likely too late for the original defence to become available. To avoid such situations, the Police should be required to inform the originally appointed lawyer as soon as they begin the preparation for detention and deportation. The Police should also be required to inform the Court about the originally appointed defence lawyer at the same time as the case is sent to court.



ICCPR Art.

Subject

State Report para.

Keywords

9 (10)

Juvenile offenders


150-155

Separation, isolation, children in high-risk insitutions

Norway has made a reservation to Article 10 paragraphs 2(b) and 3, regarding the obligation to keep young criminal offenders and convicted persons separated from adult prisoners, (cf. Article 37 c in UNCRC).  The main reason behind this reservation is, as mentioned in the report from the Government, that there is a guiding principle of the Norwegian Correctional Services that a convicted person should serve his/her sentence in close proximity to his/her home, cf. Section 11 first paragraph in the Execution of Sentences Act.

In practice a lot of children serve their sentence far away from their homes, even though they serve together with adults. A survey was made by the Norwegian Bar association in 200828. Some of the children in this survey served their sentence, or where remanded in custody far away from home. One of the boys was held in custody 2000 kilometers from his mother. The State party systematically does not comply with the provision in the CRC to undertake an individual assessment before placing children together with adults.

The government further argues that there are very few juveniles in Norwegian prisons so if the separation from the adult population were to be adhered to, along with the principle of proximity; the result would be to place them in almost total isolation. Against this argument we emphasize that the survey revealed that some of the children were held in total isolation or solitary confinement 23 hours a day, even though they served together with adults.

To avoid juveniles serving their sentences in prisons together with adults or in total isolation, Norway has established separate prison units for young offenders. Norway has worked on establishing two special prisons for juveniles, one in Bergen and one in Oslo, only the one in Bergen has become operational at the time of writing. It is of great concern that establishing such units will facilitate greater juvenile imprisonment than today. Bergen prison for young offenders has been operational for about 1 year and the number of juveniles is increasing. There are reasons to believe that judges and others will find it easier to put children to jail if the prison cells are available. According to the records of the Ministry of Justice, 46 children were confined in Norwegian prisons in 2006. In 2007 the figure was 54.  In 2008 and 2009 the numbers have increased. In 2008, 74 children were imprisoned, and in 2009 the number was almost 100 children altogether.

The survey has also revealed that as many as 70 percent of the confined children had been exposed to isolation over prolonged periods of time. Three of the children were in isolation for three months or more, with no other breaks than one hour in the prison yard per day. It has also been identified that in many of the instances where children had been exposed to isolation, this is because of a collective punishment which most often related to the adult inmates, but which affected the child as well, without an individual assessment being made as to whether a child can or should be punished for such matters. Despite this one of the boys where held isolated in 150 days, during which he had to stay in his cell for 23 hours a day.

 The member states are encouraged to actively establish alternatives to custody, and to make these measures known to the courts, the police, and the authorities that in their line of duty are in contact with children who perpetrate criminal acts. The state party has yet set up only a few specific alternatives to custody or imprisonment of children, even though it is an expressed objective for the State party that there shall be no children in Norwegian prisons. The principle of restorative justice is the recent policy on juvenile offenders. The principle is important and interesting, but it has not been implemented in such way that the numbers of children in prison are decreasing. 



 The Government's proposal to establish mediation board solutions is welcome, but the Government has so far not been as eager to follow up this proposal, than the proposal for separate prison units for young offenders. We are afraid that the result will be more juveniles in prison.
 Children in high-risk institutions

The said survey also disclosed that seven out of ten children were confined in the same prison unit as one or more perpetrators of the most serious crimes, such as homicide, rape and drug trafficking. Three out of ten children were committed to “high-risk institutions”. These institutions have been subject to serious criticism in the past, by e.g. the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture. Children are incarcerated in high-risk institutions such as Oslo Prison and Ringerike Prison without professional and individual assessments that should be made in advance of such incarcerations.

Recommendations to the Committee:

  • Ask the State Party why the number of children in prison has about doubled since2005, despite numerous statements the goal is to avoid putting children in prison.

Recommendations to the Norway:

  • Children under the age of 18 should not be placed in prison and under no circumstance in high risk institutions where they are locked up with adults for up to 23 hours a day.



ICCPR Art.

Subject

State Report para

Keyword

9
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