Each year the Norwegian Human Rights Institution (NIM) highlights some chosen subjects and issues in the annual report. This is an english translation of the recommendations for 2019.
Regulations and practices in the field of child welfare must be assessed against the European Court of Human Right’s (ECtHR) principle that all removals of parental authority should as a starting point be regarded as temporary. County Social Welfare Boards and courts must have a sufficiently broad and up-to-date factual basis, provide specific justifications and weigh conflicting human rights when making decisions on child welfare measures.
In 2019, Norway was convicted four times in the ECtHR for violating Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in child welfare cases. In addition, the ECtHR has decided to further consider 25 new child welfare cases.
Isolation in Prisons
The recommendations in the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s special report on isolation and lack of human contact in Norwegian prisons should be implemented. The appeal mechanisms, judicial review and the system of free legal aid in isolation cases should be reviewed.
There is an urgent need to change the conditions of imprisonment in Norwegian prisons. There is a high risk that the prohibition against inhuman and degrading treatment will be violated.
The announced action plan against domestic violence should identify vulnerable groups and contain knowledge-based measures that ensure coordinated and effective protection of these groups. It is particularly important to establish measures related to children and the elderly, as it shall be done for indigenous peoples. The role and responsibilities of the municipalities should be reflected in the plan.
Violence and abuse in close relations is a serious human rights challenge in Norway, and the Norwegian authorities still do not provide adequate protection to several vulnerable groups.
Coercion in the Health and Care Services
To ensure that the use of coercion in the health and care services is not practiced to a greater extent than human rights allow, legislative changes should be made, including the introduction of a decision support system, as well as thorough assessments of the knowledge base for coercive measures. It must also be ensured that the person exercising coercion has sufficient knowledge of human rights requirements.
Both the legislation allowing for coercion in the health and care services and its practice are challenging human rights requirements.