Norway's Initial Report

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Due process for persons with intellectual disabilities

101. In both the survey report Slik har jeg det i dag [This is my life today] and the white paper Frihet og likeverd - Om mennesker med utviklingshemming [Freedom and equality - people with intellectual disabilities] (Meld. St. 45 (2012‒2013), a gap is pointed out between factual rights and actual fulfilment of the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities. More information about the due process situation of persons with intellectual disabilities will be obtained in cooperation with the relevant directorates. In 2014, the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs collaborated with a number of directorates on obtaining the directorates' own data, figures/statistics and R&D in this area. The data have formed the basis for an R&D project announced by the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs in spring 2015 and to be completed in December of the same year. The purpose of the R&D project is to make a broad survey of existing data/research on the due process situation of persons with learning difficulties and to gain an overview of areas where there is inadequate knowledge. There are plans for R&D projects in areas where there is inadequate knowledge of the due process situation of persons with learning difficulties. The work is associated with an ongoing public survey of the life situation of persons with intellectual disabilities. Examining all aspects of the due process protection of persons with intellectual disabilities is a central topic in the committee's terms of reference. See Articles 16 and 19.

Article 13 Access to justice

102. In principle, everyone has equal access to justice. Under Article 98, second paragraph of the Constitution, no human being must be subject to unfair or disproportionate differential treatment, including dealings with the legal system. Under Article 95, first paragraph of the Constitution, everyone is entitled to have their case tried by an independent and impartial court within reasonable time, and legal proceedings must be fair.

103. However, many persons with disabilities are dependent on facilitation in order to effectively exercise their rights. In criminal proceedings, witnesses with "intellectual disabilities or similar impairments" may be questioned by means of judicial examination in certain cases involving violence or sexual abuse; see the Criminal Procedure Act, sections 239 and 298. Judicial examination enables the witness to make a statement in advance, and a video recording of the interview is played in court.
104. Children's Houses [Statens Barnehus] provide a service to children and young people who may have been exposed to or may have witnessed violence or sexual abuse that was reported to the police. This service is now also offered to adults with intellectual or other disabilities. All of the Children's Houses have their own staff, normally a professional supervisor and other staff members with expertise in dealing with adults with disabilities. Sound procedures for attending to the special needs of this group have also been developed.
105. In June 2015, the Storting adopted a bill with several amendments to the Criminal

Procedure Act. When the amendments enter into force, probably in 2015, persons with intellectual disabilities or other functional disabilities with similar needs for accommodation must be questioned under adapted interview conditions if they are being questioned as a victim or witness in a case involving sexual offences, genital mutilation, abuse in intimate relationships, murder or bodily harm. These interviews must be conducted at a Children's House unless it is clearly in the best interests of the witness that they be conducted elsewhere. Adapted interviews must also be used if the police are in doubt about the functional level of the witness. Furthermore, the police can conduct adapted interviews of particularly vulnerable persons in other criminal cases when consideration must be given either to clarifying the case or to the witness. These amendments will give persons with intellectual or similar disabilities better access to justice. According to the amendments, the interviews of vulnerable adults will be conducted as sequential interviews, which is a method whereby a series of interviews is conducted. The purpose is to prevent the witness losing concentration and becoming tired, and to give the witness more time to establish a rapport with the interviewer and to feel safe in the interview situation. Tests using this method show that these interviews show more consideration for the witness and produce better evidence. They facilitate conviction of perpetrators of abuses against particularly vulnerable adults.

106. Article 13(2) of the Convention states: "In order to help to ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities, States Parties shall promote appropriate training for those working in the field of administration of justice, including police and prison staff."
107. Part of the basic training given at the Norwegian Police University College consists of teaching police cadets how to deal with people in different life situations and with different functional abilities in a courteous and respectful manner. Police investigators who interview children, persons with intellectual disabilities and other particularly vulnerable adults have normally taken further training to learn more about young witnesses and about how to interview them. Since autumn 2014, police investigators have been offered a course that qualifies them to conduct interviews of pre-school children and of persons with intellectual disabilities, using sequential interviews. There is currently no absolute requirement for police investigators who interview persons with intellectual disabilities or similar disabilities to have taken this further training, but in the regulations the Ministry will advocate that investigators who conduct these interviews should, as far as possible, have done so.
108. One of the priority areas for the Norwegian Courts Administration is to continue developing the competence of its employees. Competence development includes communicating with vulnerable groups, including persons with intellectual disabilities and persons with impaired learning capability. The goal is to better equip the courts to identify, understand and interact with these user groups.
109. The Norwegian Correctional Service is responsible for training prison wardens in Norway. At present, the syllabus does not cover persons with disabilities and their rights. Nonetheless, an important aspect of the training is that students are provided with sufficient knowledge to equip them for meeting people with different challenges in a satisfactory way.
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