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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Children’s citizenship


Children as legal persons

Since the report in 2008 to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Norway has established a practice where a child’s application for Norwegian citizenship can be declined if it is considered that one of the parent's stated family identity lacks credibility. In one case, four Iranian children were denied citizenship on account of identity issues of one of the parents, a complaint was brought forth to the Ombudsman, the authorities acknowledged that the existing practice may be in violation of the best interest of the child. Subsequently the law is under revision; however the expected changes may not fully protect the best interest of the child and the child’s right to be acknowledge as a separate legal person.

Recommendation to Norway:

Norway should adopt regulations ensuring that children are treated as separate legal persons so that their rights are not derivative of their parents’ rights.

ICCPR Article 25



State Report para.



Monitoring of elections


We welcome the changes to the Election Law which makes clear that the process is open to international and domestic observers in accordance with international election standards. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee organized election observations in Norway with domestic and international observers  before the changes to the law (in 2005) and  after the new provisions of the law came into force (in 2009) and experienced that all segments of the electoral administration were  transparent and gave due access to observers in both cases.

ICCPR Article 27



State Report para.



Coastal Fisheries Committee and the Sami Rights Committee II


Fishing rights for the Sea Sami People

The rights of the indigenous Sea Sami People in Norway have been examined by the Committee on fishing rights in the ocean north of Norway for the Sami People and other citizen, hereinafter the Committee, appointed by Royal Decree of 30. June 2006. The membership of the Committee comprised a broad range of the various interests involved, as well as comprehensive legal expertise on the rights of minorities and indigenous people, including a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The Committee handed down its unanimous report 18 February 200842. The extensive work of the Committee comprise a detailed study of both the historic developments regarding fishing in the sea off the Finnmark coast and Sea Sami settlements and culture. Further the report provides a thoroughgoing study of legal issues, including international law protecting the fishing rights of the Sea Sami People. The core findings on legal issues are summed up in chapter 8.17 of the report (our translation):

The Norwegian state has a legal duty to provide the Sami People real possibilities to ensure the survival and continued development of their culture. For the Sami People living by the coast (the Sea Sami People) fishing in the fjords and the costal sea is – often in combination with other trade – of vital importance for the settlements in the Sami communities and for the maintenance of the Sea Sami culture.

This legal obligation stems from the Constitution, international legal undertakings and from the Human Rights Act 1999. In international law the central provisions are article 27 of the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights and article 15 of ILO Convention No. 169. These provisions must be interpreted in the light of the historic position of the Sami in Norway.

The state’s legal obligation comprises the material basis for the culture. I.e. the Sami People must be provided the economical and physical means to ensure the survival and continued development of their culture. A significant element in recent legal developments is the states’ recognition of this obligation. This entails a legal claim from the Sami side to utilize natural resources. For the Sea Sami People this entails the right to fishing in the sea, which provides the basis for settlements.

The Sami People have the right to claim affirmative action in relation to the rest of the population to the extent that this is necessary to ensure the survival and continued development of the culture. This principle is also recognized by the Norwegian authorities. A claim for affirmative action is strongest in the areas that are vital for Sami culture. The culture of the Sea Sami People is especially vulnerable as a consequence of long lasting policy of norwegianization. The situation for this part of the Sami culture is critical.

The same principles as in international law is embedded in the Sami provision of section 110 a of the Constitution. Thus, in Norwegian law the international protective rules have thus obtained strong support by the Constitution.”

The Committee proposed legal reforms intended to secure the rights of the Sea Sami People, including the adoption of an Act which acknowledged the Sea Sami Peoples’ right of fishing in the sea off the coast of Finnmark, both for self consumption and as a business providing income for a household, either as the only income or together with other income. A right of fishing in the fjords in accordance with traditional usage should also be acknowledged. For the administration of fishing rights in the area, it was proposed that a new public authority (Finnmark fiskeriforvaltning) should be established.

On 29 May 2008 the Sami Parliament, sitting in plenary session, gave its unanimous support to the proposals from the Committee.

Regrettably, the Government has decided not to follow up the Committee’s proposals. Accordingly, no legislative initiatives have been taken and no such initiatives seem to be planned either. On the contrary, it seems that the Government has turned the Sami People’s rights into a national political issue, rather than a legal issue. Significantly, the current Minister of Fisheries and Costal Affairs said in a speech on 14 April 2010 that she would emphasise that (our translation):

“… the end result will be of a character that will gain strongest possible acceptance, not only in Sami communities, but also in other communities in Finnmark and elsewhere.”

This is at odds with the legal obligations undertaken by Norway under articles 27 and 2, paragraph 1 of the Covenant.

Recommendations to the Committee:

  • Based on the observation that the legal rights of the Sea Sami People are convincingly underpinned by the extensive work of the committee, the Norwegian Government should be urged to follow up the proposals from the Committee on fishing rights in the ocean north of Norway for the Sami People and other citizen, in order to adequately ensure the survival and continued development of the culture of the Sea Sami People.



State Report para.



Situation for the Roma


 Whereas several initiatives have been taken to support and preserve the culture of Roma, little initiative is focused on the social and economic needs of this group. The Norwegian Roma population is very small, compared i.e. to that of Sweden. Informal reports assess the number to be about 400. The authorities fail to recognize that a small group needs particular initiatives that may differ from minority initiatives in cases where the group is more sizable.  Roma mainly resides in Oslo and their problems may be more affected of belonging to one of potentially four family structures, as well as having a long history of being stigmatized due to ethnicity. The family structures are heavily burdened with a high percentage of the males having been or presently staying in prison. Substance abuse is also assumed to be far more prevalent than in other segments of the population. School attendance is low. Few, if any, cases exist where a parent is made responsible for not ensuring its child’s education. Women are reported as being oppressed and subject to domestic violence. Particular health issues are more prevalent within the group which suggests recurring trauma in the different family structures. Despite the significantly inferior life quality of Roma, existing research is very limited. Norway has several times refused to adhere to the advice of the UNCERD regarding the need to identify size and other statistics on ethnic minority groups in order to assess and implement effective policies to prevent discrimination and improve living conditions.

Recommendations to the Committee:

  • Norway should be asked to provide statistics pertaining to the life quality of Roma, including the percentage of males and females having served prison sentences, time in school, the percentage having had fulltime work for any length of time and an assessment of their health problems compared to that of the rest of the population.

Recommendations to Norway:

  • Norway should provide a plan on how to ensure both the rights of Roma women and the rights of the group.

1 Page 21 UNE Årbok 2009

2 State Party report, para. 73.

3 SINTEF report of May 2008, page 73.

4 Cfr. books by Gro Hillestad Thune and Øystein Vaaland, both published in 2008.

5 See the report of the working group, page 35 and 54.

6 See Judgement of 31 October 2008 by Frostating High Court (LF-2008-142448).

7 See Judgement of 16 December 2002 by Oslo City Court (TOSLO-2002-8528).

8 See Judgement of 9 January 2002 by Frostating High Court (LF-2002-830).

9 Oslo City Court case No. 10-023624TVI- OTIR/08.

10 See the report IS-1338 of 2005 from the Social- and Health directorate page 99-100.

11 Mossige, S. and Stefansen, K. 2007, «Vold og overgrep mot barn og unge». Report no. 20/07, NOVA

12Estimate according to a government-appointed committee on rape, January 2008.

13 Øverlien, C. and Sogn, H. 2007, ”Kunnskap gir mot til å se og trygghet til å handle”. Report no. 3/2007,


14 In Norwegian“ikke er urimelig å henvise søkeren”.

15 The Mæland-report was delivered in November 2010 and is due to be considered in 2011.

16 Wife had DUF 2009 01813002-002 and the children DUF 2009 121323 and DUF 2009 121324 respectively.

17 UNHCR press release, 21 September 2010.

18 Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, report of 4 February 2010:

19 Reports from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee: “Out the back door: The Dublin II regulation and illegal deportations from Greece” and “A Gamble with the right to Asylum in Europe: Greek Asylum Policy and the Dublin II Regulation”

20 M.S.S. vs. Belgium and Greece, application no. 30696/09.

21 10 (2008-2009).

22 Police Case No. 10148253 Doc. No. 05.06.

23 See recent supplementary report to CERD from a group of Norwegian NGOs.

24 Rettstiende-2009-797.

25 State report, para. 145.

26 Politiets Utlendingsenhet.

27 Case No 11208302 5379-10150.

28 Survey by the Norwegian Bar Association, published on page 44 in The Norwegian Forum for the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Supplementary Report 2009 to Norway’s forth Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, June 2009. Copies can be obtained from Save the Children, Norway.

29 The mental health crisis of inmates toppled when the only high security institution Reitgjerde was closed in 1987, which led to a series of proposals and reports on the need for a new institution that may serve the needs of convicts with severe mental illnesses, but no real changes has come about: In a government white paper, Stortingsmelding nr. 41 (1987-88),the government proposed the establishment of a separate psychiatric institution for inmates. In a Norwegian public report (NOU 1990:5 Strafferettslige utilregnelighetsregler og særreaksjoner), in other government white papers, (Stortingsmelding nr. 25 fra Helse og omsorgsdepartementet i 1997) and Kriminalmeldingen høsten 2008) separate sections in prisons were proposed.

30 In 2005 the Ombudsman gave a worrying report on the number of suicides and self inflicted injury in Norwegian prisons which far outnumbered those in psychiatric institutions,; in 2007 the Ombudsman visited Skien prison and noted a systematic failure to map the health needs of the inmates upon their arrival, along with a clearly insufficient psychiatric care that led to deterioration of inmates’ mental health and a danger of inflicting bodily harm upon themselves or others,; and in 2008 the Ombudsman visited Tromsø prison and emphasized the responsibility of the prison institution to ensure the right of inmates in need of transfer to psychiatric institutions In several letters and reports Amnesty International and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee have pointed to the lack of psychiatric care, i.e. letter to the European Committee Against Torture of 10th March 2009,

31 Ministry of Justice’s working group report of February 2010

32 Norwegian television Documentary , NRK ”Brennpunkt” February 2009

33 Interview with Director Knut Bjarkeid of ILA prison to the same TV Documentary

34 According to the Norwegian Health act § 6-2a, Specialist health services act § 2-5, Psychiatric health care § 1-4 and Social services act § 4-3a, an individual plan for the treatment of each patient shall be established. This right becomes to everyone in need of long-term treatment, also individuals in institutions, including prisons. According to the regulation to these paragraphs, a sub-legal act of 23. December 2004 § 6, it is the responsibility of the authorities to establish the individual plan and it is the health care office that the patient approaches that is responsible to carry out the plan.

35 Our translation of the Act.

36 Execution of Sentences Act, Section 37 fourth paragraph, our translation.

37 Rt. 1992-698. In Norwegian. Known as the Treholt case.

38 Op. cit.

39 Kristendom, Religion og Livssyn (KRL)

40 17.7.98, number 61.

41 Response from the Norwegian Center for Human Rights to the proposed “læreplan i faget religion, livssyn og etikk” (RLE) from the Directorate of Education, quoted from Chapter 4 Conclusion, para. 1. The response is dated 2 April 2008. Our translation.

42 The report is published as NOU 2008:5 Retten til fiske i havet utenfor Finnmark.

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