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TITLE:  NORWAY HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                             
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

                          NORWAY


Norway is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy 
with King Harald V as the Head of State.  Norway is governed by 
a Prime Minister, Cabinet, and a 165-seat Storting 
(parliament), which is elected every 4 years and cannot be 
dissolved.  The police, security forces, and the military are 
scrupulous in their protection of human rights.  The Government 
(including the judicial system and the Storting) exercises firm 
control over these organizations and investigates thoroughly 
any allegations of human rights violations.

Norway is an advanced industrial state with a mixed economy 
combining private, public, and state ownership.  Personal 
freedoms, such as freedom of association and of speech and the 
right to pursue private interests and to hold private property, 
are protected by the Constitution and respected in practice.

Deeply rooted democratic principles, a strong egalitarian 
tradition, an independent press, and highly developed 
educational and social welfare systems have made Norway a 
leading practitioner of human rights.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including   
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Such killings did not occur.

     b.  Disappearance

Secret arrests and detentions did not occur.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or 
punishment on the part of law enforcement or armed services 
personnel do not occur in Norway.  Generous furlough and 
visitation rights characterize the penal system, which 
emphasizes rehabilitation.  The maximum sentence for any crime 
is 21 years.


     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Norwegian law provides for arrest warrants, which are used 
except in circumstances such as hot pursuit.  Persons may be 
detained for up to 4 hours without being charged.  A person 
charged with a crime has the right, observed in practice, to 
appear before the judge for arraignment within 24 hours.  If 
charges are formalized at the arraignment, the judge then 
determines whether the detainee should be kept in custody or 
released pending trial.  Bail need not be posted.  A strong 
case must be made to justify detention.  Possible grounds 
include fear of flight, the needs of the investigation, and 
fear that a detainee will commit further crimes.

Any person held in pretrial detention appears before a judge 
every 4 weeks for a determination of the necessity of continued 
detention.  There is no legal limit on the time a prisoner may 
be held before trial; however, lengthy pretrial detention is 
rare.  Preventive detention also exists but is used 
infrequently.  There is no exile.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The right to a fair, public trial is ensured by law and honored 
in practice.  Only in certain cases, including those involving 
state security or private family matters, are trials closed.  
In criminal cases, all Norwegian citizens and aliens are 
entitled to free counsel.  Indigent persons are granted free 
counsel in certain civil cases as well.

Norway has a three-tiered system of district and city courts, 
high courts, and the Supreme Court--all of which deal with both 
criminal and civil cases--as well as special courts, including 
the Labor Disputes Court and the Social Insurance Court.  The 
judiciary is independent of both the legislative and the 
executive branches of the Government and tries military and 
security as well as civil and criminal cases.  The Labor Court 
mediates industrial relations disputes.

Persons refusing both military service and alternative civilian 
service have been held in prison for up to 16 months (a period 
equivalent to military service) without a trial.  Detention is 
based on an administrative rather than a judicial decision, and 
prisoners held in this manner receive the salary and benefits 
normally accorded to military recruits during their period of 
confinement.


     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

The privacy of the family and the person is free from arbitrary 
interference by the Government.  Police may conduct searches of 
the home only with court approval and in instances of hot 
pursuit or when they fear evidence is being destroyed.  There 
were no allegations of forced entry into Norwegian homes in 
1993.  In most cases, wiretaps are prohibited by law, but they 
may be used in cases involving state security or narcotics 
offenses when officially approved by the court within carefully 
drawn legal guidelines.  Correspondence may be opened only by 
court order in cases involving state security.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

Freedom of speech and press is protected by the constitution 
and respected in practice.  In addition to restrictions on 
slander and libel, Norwegian law forbids racist or sexist 
remarks in print or public speech.  It is forbidden to publish 
information concerning national defense that could prove 
damaging to Norwegian security.  Norway has an active and 
diversified press, and many papers are sustained by government 
subsidies.  Some newspapers are loosely connected to various 
national political parties.  Norway's state broadcasting 
company is the more prominent of two national television 
networks (the other is private) but the Government does not 
exercise editorial control over programming.  Private local 
radio stations and one private national radio station exist, as 
do privately owned local and national cable television 
stations.  Foreign television networks are also available on 
cable throughout the country.

Certain restrictions apply to the showing of films.  The Film 
Control Board, appointed by the Ministry of Culture, has the 
authority to censor or ban any film deemed overly violent, 
pornographic, or blasphemous.  The blasphemy clause in the 
censorship law, however, has not been used in the last 20 
years.  There is no evidence that any films have been censored 
because of political content.


     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Norwegians exercise these freedoms without restraint.  Permits 
for public demonstrations are granted routinely.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The state church is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway, 
which is financially supported by the State, and to which 93 
percent of the population nominally belongs. There is a 
constitutional requirement that the King and half of the 
Cabinet belong to the state church.  The Workers' Protection 
and Working Environment Act permits prospective employers to 
ask job applicants whether they respect Christian beliefs and 
principles when applying for a job in private, religious-run 
schools and day-care centers.

Approximately 4 percent of the population are registered 
members of 20 other denominations which operate freely and may 
proselytize.  Foreign clergy are welcome in Norway.  No 
religious community is required to register with the Government 
unless it desires state support, which is provided to all 
registered denominations on a proportional basis in accordance 
with membership.  Although the state religion is taught in all 
public schools, children of other faiths are allowed to be 
absent from such classes upon parental request.  If there are 
enough students of the same faith, the school will arrange 
classes in that faith.  Workers belonging to minority 
denominations are allowed leave for religious holidays.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Government does not impede foreign or domestic travel.  The 
right to voluntary repatriation is guaranteed.  Refugees and 
asylum seekers are provided generous benefits, including social 
services, free medical care, and education while awaiting 
decisions on their asylum applications.  In 1993 Norway 
involuntarily repatriated rejected asylum seekers from the 
province of Kosovo in Serbia.  This caused protest from 
churches which offered "asylum" from Norwegian authorities to 
these individuals.  Repatriations occur only after asylum 
applications have been denied, and appeals and reviews have 
been completed.  There are approximately 400 rejected asylum 
seekers in church asylum nationwide.


Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Norway is a multiparty democracy.  Eight parties are 
represented in the Storting where distribution of seats is 
based upon proportional representation by district.  The 
Storting may reject or modify government proposals; if a 
government loses a vote on a major issue of confidence, it 
resigns, and a new government is formed.  The minimum voting 
age is 18, and voter turnout in the 1993 parliamentary 
elections was about 76 percent.  Foreigners who have resided in 
Norway for at least 3 years, and are otherwise eligible, have 
the right to vote in local elections only.

In addition to participating freely in the national political 
process, Norwegian Sami (Lapp) elected their own constituent 
assembly, the Sameting, for the second time in 1993.  The 
39-seat body is a consultative group which meets regularly to 
consider issues of importance to the Sami people.  According to 
the law establishing it, the Sameting deals with "all matters 
which in (its) opinion are of special importance to the Sami 
people."  In practice, the Sameting has been most interested in 
protecting the group's language and cultural rights and in 
influencing decisions on resources and lands where the Sami are 
a majority.

There are no restrictions, in law or in practice, on the 
participation of women in government or in the political arena 
generally.  Norway has a female Prime Minister and women lead 
the other two most prominent political parties.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

A number of public and private organizations monitor alleged 
human rights abuses either inside or, more often, outside the 
country.  The Government cooperates with nongovernmental 
investigations of alleged violations of human rights and, in 
recent years, has cooperated with both the European Commission 
of Human Rights and the United Nations High Commissioner for 
Refugees.  Norway is an active participant in international 
human rights organizations.


Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

Through a highly developed social welfare system that reflects 
a long tradition of egalitarianism, the Government provides for 
the health, education, retirement, and other needs of its 
people, regardless of race, religion, sex, ethnic background, 
physical disability, or political opinion.

     Women

The rights of women are protected under the Equal Rights Law of 
1978 and other regulations.  Under that law, "women and men 
engaged in the same activity shall have equal wages for work of 
equal value."  An Equal Rights Council monitors enforcement of 
the 1978 law, and an Equal Rights Ombudsman processes 
complaints of sexual discrimination.  There were 303 complaints 
in 1992, and, as of November, 213 in 1993.  The Government 
provides liberal maternity leave and time off for either parent 
to care for their children.

Crime against women is not widespread.  Increases in the crime 
rate have included crimes against women, although police 
authorities believe that much of the increase in reported rapes 
and incidents of wife beating is due to a greater willingness 
among women to report these crimes than has been the case in 
the past.  The police vigorously investigate and prosecute such 
crimes and have instituted special programs for rape and 
domestic violence prevention and for counseling victims.  
Public and private organizations run several free shelters 
which give battered wives an alternative to returning to a 
violent domestic situation after an incident of wife beating.

     Children

The Government is highly committed to the welfare of children, 
reflecting a similar profound commitment in Norwegian society.  
Among the many features of a comprehensive system of child 
welfare benefits are governmental maintenance of generous 
maternal and paternal leave policies to assure the health and 
welfare of the newborn, and provision of stipends to parents 
based on the number of children they have.  An independent 
children's ombudsman office assures the protection of children 
in law and practice.


     Indigenous People

Apart from an extremely small Finnish population in the 
northeastern corner of the country, the Sami (Lapp) people were 
Norway's only significant minority group until the influx of 
immigrants during the 1970's.  In recent years, the Government 
has taken steps to protect the cultural rights of the Sami by 
providing Sami-language instruction at schools in Sami- 
inhabited areas, radio and television programs broadcast or 
subtitled in the Sami language, and subsidies for the 
publication of newspapers and books oriented toward the Sami 
(see also Section 3).

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

There is continuing political debate on whether current 
restrictions on non-Nordic immigration, in effect since 1975, 
are racially motivated and whether immigrant minority groups 
such as Pakistanis, Vietnamese, Turks, and Africans are 
accorded equal rights by Norwegian authorities.  Eligibility 
for citizenship is based on residency.  The Government provides 
legal protection for the rights of all minorities and has taken 
active measures to help these groups adjust to Norwegian 
society, including free Norwegian-language instruction for any 
foreign resident and funding of nongovernmental organizations 
such as the Anti-Racism Center.

As the result of a decade-long parliamentary study, the 
Storting in 1988 significantly revised the Norwegian 
immigration law.  Among the major changes was an effort to link 
refugee and asylum processing more closely to the definitions 
and processes established under the U.N. Convention on 
Refugees.  The current law provides that asylum may no longer 
be granted solely on humanitarian grounds to those applicants 
who had been determined not to have a well-grounded fear of 
persecution.  The law, while limiting the number of those 
granted asylum, continues to safeguard the rights of those 
asylum seekers allowed to remain in Norway.  Refugee policy 
continues to be a significant political issue; some groups call 
for reducing the inflow of refugees and others--human rights 
groups and political parties--urge the Government to accept 
more refugees.  Although some individual asylum cases have 
caused problems, Norway has a well-organized system which 
includes advance planning, careful dispersion of refugees 
throughout the populace, and generous welfare, educational, and 
vocational training programs.


People with Disabilities

The physically disabled are fully integrated into social, 
economic and political life, and are provided full health care 
and other social benefits.  They are not discriminated against 
in employment, education or the provision of any state 
service.  Accessibility is mandated in new construction.  In 
existing buildings, accessibility is mandated if the building 
is refitted for new uses.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The law provides to workers the rights to associate freely and 
to strike.  There were several short strikes in 1993, settled 
through normal means.  The Government, however, has the right, 
with the approval of the Storting, to invoke compulsory 
arbitration under certain circumstances.  This procedure, which 
was invoked several times in the 1980's, particularly in the 
oil industry, was criticized repeatedly by the Committee of 
Experts of the International Labor Organization (ILO), which 
argued that the situations were not a sufficient threat to 
public health and safety to justify the action.  The Government 
again invoked this procedure in 1993 to stop an oil workers' 
strike.  A case against Norway is pending in the ILO Committee 
on Freedom of Association, awaiting information from the 
Norwegian Government.  This case is based on a strike by a 
small union, the Maritime Engineers.

With membership totaling about 60 percent of the work force, 
unions play an important role in political and economic life, 
and are consulted by the Government on important economic and 
social problems.  Although the largest trade union federation 
is associated with the Labor Party, all unions and labor 
federations are free of party and government control.  Unions 
are free to form federations and to affiliate internationally.  
They maintain strong ties with such international bodies as the 
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

All workers, including government employees and military 
personnel, exercise the right to organize and bargain 
collectively.  Collective bargaining is widespread, with most 
wage earners covered by negotiated settlements, either directly 
or through understandings which extend the contract terms to 
workers outside of the main labor federation and the employers' 
bargaining group.  There have been no complaints of antiunion 
discrimination in recent years.  If there were such complaints 
they would be dealt with by the Labor Court.

There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Compulsory labor is prohibited by law and does not exist.  The 
Directorate of Labor Inspections ensures compliance.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Children aged 13 to 18 may be employed part-time in light work 
that will not adversely affect their health, development, or 
schooling.  Minimum age rules are observed in practice and 
enforced by the Directorate of Labor Inspections.  Nine years 
of education is compulsory in Norway.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

Normal working hours are mandated by law and do not exceed 37.5 
hours per week.  The law also provides for 25 working days of 
paid leave per year (31 for those over age 60).  A 28-hour rest 
period is legally mandated on the weekend and for holidays.  
There is no minimum wage as such, but wages normally fall 
within a national wage scale negotiated by labor, employers, 
and the Government.  The average annual per capita income, not 
including extensive social benefits, is adequate to provide a 
worker and his or her family a decent living.

Under the Workers' Protection and Working Environment Act of 
1977, all employed persons are assured safe and physically 
acceptable working conditions.  Specific standards are set by 
the Directorate of Labor Inspections in consultation with 
nongovernmental experts.  According to the Act, working 
environment committees, composed of management, workers, and 
health personnel must be established in all enterprises with 50 
or more workers, and safety delegates must be elected in all 
organizations.  Workers enjoy strong rights to remove 
themselves from situations which endanger their health.  The 
Directorate of Labor Inspections ensures effective compliance 
with labor legislation and standards.


[end of document]

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