Norway has on the whole a well-developed but fragmented system of monitoring and implementation of human rights. Norway has ratified most of the main international human rights conventions. Key human rights provisions have gradually been incorporated into the Constitution. In connection with the constitutional revision in 2014, the Storting decided to further strengthen the constitutional human rights protection. A new Part E "Human Rights" was inserted in the Constitution including various civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. We also have the Human Rights Act of 1999, which gives several international conventions precedence over Norwegian law. International standards and jurisprudence thereby have had greater impact in the Norwegian courts. In addition, various ombudsman institutions and human rights organizations help ensure that the Norwegian authorities fulfill their human rights obligations.
Even so, there are also in Norway human rights challenges that need to be investigated.
Nevertheless, we have also in Norway human rights challenges that should be investigated further. Such investigations take place on a regular basis. The authorities initiate various types of reports, both to identify human rights challenges and to receive proposals for solutions to the problems. The authorities also report regularly on such challenges to international human rights monitoring mechanisms. The Supreme Court, and increasingly also lower instance courts, considers compliance with human rights obligations when the international standards are applied in the court’s jurisprudence. Ombudsman institutions and various human rights organizations also identify and report regularly on selected human rights challenges, and follow up the need for change on the basis of their independent monitoring and control function.
We know for example that several institutions over time have reported challenges related to the use of solitary confinement in police custody, detention and prisons. Other human rights issues have been identified in closed institutions and care institutions. The state has a particular responsibility for individuals in public detention, treatment or care, which require attention to ensuring the rights and freedoms of affected individuals. This includes nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals and child welfare institutsions where possible challenges could be isolated cases of degrading treatment, insufficient respect for personal integrity and access to adequate health care.
Vulnerable groups should be subject to human rights investigations and monitoring also outside closed institutions. There may be individuals who face complex and extensive human rights challenges, both well known issues as well as more "hidden" challenges that can be found for example linked to drug abuse.
Among the challenges mentioned by international monitoring bodies, we find ethnic discrimination in connection with the right to work, to housing and other areas.
The situation of indigenous peoples and national minorities are at the centre in a human rights context. Regarding minorities more generally, many organizations have looked at hate speech, including that targetting sexual orientation (LGBT) and Roma.
Women and children are also a concerns of high priority in the Norwegian context. Challenges in this respect can vary between domestic violence, trafficking, protection of children from violence, and more.
The influx of asylum seekers over the past six months have shown that there is considerable disagreement about what our international obligations require in the area of asylum- and refugee law. Questions in this area are likely to be central in the debate for years to come.