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 2020.
Human Rights in Times of Crisis
- The authorities must adhere to the principle of minimum intervention and carry out thorough proportionality assessments of all measures taken during crises, when the measures interfere with human rights.
- The consultative institute should be used as far as feasible, even when it is urgent.
- In all measures, special consideration must be given to vulnerable groups and their needs.
In connection with the outbreak of COVID-19, the authorities implemented a number of measures that interfered with the rights and freedoms of the country’s citizens. Although it was necessary to take many measures to protect the life and health of the population, there were also some measures that were too intrusive in the rights of citizens.
- 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 as a starting point shall be regarded as temporary. The Child Welfare Service, the County Social Welfare Boards and courts must have sufficiently broad and up-to-date factual bases, provide specific justifications and weigh conflicting human rights when making decisions on child welfare measures. Consideration of the best interests of the child must weigh heavily, and the child’s right to be heard must be ensured at all stages.
- The state should actively work to ensure that separate representatives for the child are appointed that can ensure the child’s right to be heard in child welfare cases for the ECtHR.
- The Ministry of Children and Families should research and establish a scheme to repair human rights violations in the field of child welfare through the allocation of redress compensation. In this connection, the Ministry should consider whether to grant legal authority where this is regulated.
In 2020, new convictions against Norway from the ECtHR were handed down in child welfare cases. Failure to safeguard the right to family life pursuant to Article 8 of the ECHR in child welfare cases poses a recurring human rights challenge in Norway, and NIM will therefore, as in every year since 2016, give recommendations on child welfare.
Guardianship and Decision-Making Support
NIM believes that the guardianship scheme should be abolished and replaced with a system for supported decision-making, so that the right to self-determination and personal autonomy can be safeguarded to the greatest extent possible for everyone, in line with the paradigm shift highlighted by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The Norwegian guardianship scheme was updated in connection with the adoption and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Convention entails a final breach with previous ideas that people have different rights based on diagnosis or functional ability.
Inmates’ Opportunity for Community and Outdoor Time
The Execution of Sentences Act should be amended so that it is stated that inmates, as a general rule, have the right to spend at least eight hours in community with others outside the cell.
A fixed norm for community with others will be important in order to prevent the risk of violation of protection against inhuman and degrading treatment and contribute to the fulfilment of inmates’ right to privacy.
Consultation Rights and Obligation to Consult
The Parliament should, in consultation with the Sami Parliament, establish guidelines for the implementation of Parliament’s obligation to consult. This is important where Parliament is considering making substantive changes to proposals that the Government has submitted to Parliament after carrying out consultations, and the amendments may have a direct impact on Sami interests.
Parliament’s obligation to consult has been brought to the fore by the fact that the courts in Finnmark were organised in a way that had not been the subject of consultations with the Sami Parliament. If Parliament makes substantive changes that have not been consulted, the duty to consult will be triggered again.