University of Minnesota

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination, Norway, U.N. Doc. A/49/18, paras. 232-267 (1994).





Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination


232. The tenth and eleventh periodic reports of Norway, submitted in one document (CERD/C/210/Add.3), were considered by the Committee at its 1032nd and 1033rd meetings, held on 14 March 1994 (CERD/C/SR.1032 and 1033).

233. The report was introduced by the representative of the State party, who said that his Government attached great importance to the dialogue with the Committee. He noted that, contrary to the usual practice, the eleventh periodic report of Norway had not been drafted in consultation with non-governmental organizations, but those organizations would be informed of the Committee's conclusions.

234. With regard to action to combat racism, the representative indicated that his country had chosen to improve documentation and statistics, to strengthen legislative instruments and to adapt the education of the personnel concerned (police, teachers, journalists, health and social welfare workers).

235. The representative said that the general prohibition on organizations described in article 4 of the Convention was not necessary and would, moreover, give rise to problems in connection with freedom of speech and assembly. However, the members of such organizations could be liable to criminal proceedings (Penal Code, sects. 330, 135 (a) and 349 (a)), so that it would be possible to prosecute any person who established such an organization and any person who was a member of an association whose purpose was to commit or incite offences punishable by law. In that connection, the police had been criticized for filing without investigation information transmitted to it in breach of sections 135 (a) and 349 (a) of the Penal Code; the Director General of Public Prosecutions had therefore requested prosecutors throughout the country to pay particular attention, in the exercise of their monitoring and advisory functions, to the way in which the police dealt with such cases. The prosecutors had also been invited to examine any information on violations of those sections during the period from 15 January to 15 April 1994 and to follow the relevant inquiries closely.

236. The representative said that the last sanctions in force against South Africa, except for the arms embargo, had been lifted in accordance with a decision taken on the basis of recommendations by the United Nations General Assembly.

237. The members of the Committee expressed their satisfaction with the reports of the State party, thanked the representative for his oral introduction and noted with satisfaction that Norway had made the declaration under article 14 of the Convention. They nevertheless stated that the information on the demographic composition of the country was inadequate. They commended the Government on the positive measures it had taken in favour of the Sami people and, in particular, on the efforts it had made to promote the use and study of the Sami language.

238. Referring to article 2 of the Convention, members of the Committee requested further information on multiracial organizations and movements encouraged by the Government, as well as on the multi-party platform of youth leaders referred to in the report (para. 42). They then asked about the status of the Convention in Norwegian domestic law and whether it could be invoked directly in the courts. The Norwegian delegation was asked how much free legal advice was given to foreigners. Members of the Committee wanted to have examples of exceptions provided by law to the principle of equality between Norwegians and foreigners (para. 36 of the report). They also asked how and to what extent the language and culture of foreigners living in Norway could be preserved.

239. In relation to article 4 of the Convention, members of the Committee stressed that, since Norway had not formulated any reservation to that article, it was bound to take the measures it provided for and to adopt instruments prohibiting all types of racist crimes and discrimination. Members of the Committee expressed concern about the apparent reluctance to bring prosecutions (see para. 254 below) and drew attention to the Committee's opinion on communication No. 4/1991, L.K. v. the Netherlands, of 1993. They asked what means would be available to the Broadcasting Committee to prohibit transmissions by a radio station with racist tendencies, such as Radio Nite Rocket, and, in general, what means would be used to prohibit or punish an organization that advocated racism, which would not, in the Committee's view, be a violation of freedom of expression. Information was requested on the number, composition and philosophy of racist organizations and organizations with racist propaganda activities in Norway. With regard to the entry of foreigners into Norway and the implementation of the Immigration Act, had particular ethnic groups been subject to the possibility of imprisonment in the event of a violation of that Act?

240. In connection with article 5 of the Convention, members of the Committee drew the attention of the delegation to the fact that the report did not contain socio-economic indicators, such as the unemployment and delinquency rates for the foreign population on the one hand, and the Norwegian population on the other. Members of the Committee wished to know whether the members of ethnic minorities enjoyed equal treatment in the administration of criminal justice. They also asked whether the immigration services did their work without discrimination, since there had been incidents suggesting that that was not the case. Further information was requested on discrimination in the workplace in both the public and private sectors, and in respect of the right to housing, health care and access to public places and services; what remedies were available to a person who claimed to be a victim of discrimination in the exercise of one of those rights? Members of the Committee also requested information on Nazi parades in Norwegian streets, as reported in the press, as well as further details on the status of asylum seekers, including many children, who had been taken in by the churches but not by the competent authorities, as well as on the organization of refugee centres.

241. Referring to article 6 of the Convention, the members of the Committee regretted that the report and the oral introduction did not contain statistics and practical information on complaints, proceedings and convictions for racial discrimination. Could associations and non-governmental organizations defending the rights of foreigners and representing their interests bring legal action?

242. Replying to the Committee's questions and comments, the representative of the State party indicated that all the questions he would be unable to answer orally, especially those relating to the country's statistical data, would be dealt with in the next periodic report.

243. On the question of the status of the Convention in relation to domestic law, the representative indicated that neither the Constitution nor domestic legislation contained any general rule about the status of international treaties. Treaties were either incorporated in domestic law or, before ratification, a comparison was made between domestic law and the treaty in question to ensure that they were in conformity with one another. Since the Supreme Court had never had to rule on a conflict between the Constitution and a treaty, it had never had occasion to decide which took precedence. The representative also noted that human rights conventions, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, had been invoked many times before the courts, but he had no detailed information on such cases.

244. Referring to the question of child asylum seekers, the representative of the State party said that, when such children, accompanied or unaccompanied, obtained refugee status, they had the same rights as Norwegian children. They had access to education and were entitled to health care. Children whose request had been turned down and who had not left the country had no legal status; in principle, they were entitled only to emergency medical assistance, but it was to be noted that, in practice, they enjoyed more or less the same access to health care as other children. Most of the children who had sought refuge in churches had been given education and health care on the basis of decisions by local authorities. The majority of those children were from Kosovo; some of them had arrived directly from the former Yugoslavia and others had come from Sweden, where their applications for asylum had been rejected. In all cases, their applications for asylum had been rejected, but, following an agreement with the churches, the Government had undertaken to review those cases. When asylum was granted to one person, it was granted to his closest family members. The same principle applied in connection with family reunification: when a person had a settlement permit, a residence permit or work permit was granted to his spouse and children.

245. In reply to the question on the property rights of the Sami people, the representative of the State party indicated that, although the Government owned 96 per cent of the county of Finnmark, where most of the Sami lived, the local population enjoyed extensive rights, especially with regard to reindeer grazing. A study on the Sami right to land had been made by the Committee on Sami Rights and would be available in 1994.

246. In reply to the question on the possibility of imprisoning foreigners provided for in the Immigration Act, the representative stressed that there would not be any imprisonment if the court could impose less constraining measures, such as assignment to a particular place of residence or confiscation of passport. Imprisonment was intended primarily for aliens of unknown identity who did not cooperate with the authorities. Any person arrested under such conditions could be released provided that he agreed to leave Norway and withdrew the application for residence or asylum.

247. With regard to the prohibition of racist organizations and to freedom of expression and association, the representative indicated that the policy of the Norwegian Government was to prosecute and punish organizations and individuals for actions committed. However, prohibiting an organization or membership of an organization or making it a criminal offence could be contrary to other freedoms. Radio and television stations that broadcast racist propaganda were liable to punishment under section 135 (a) of the Penal Code and that could lead to the halting of their activity and the confiscation of their equipment, as well as the prosecution of the persons involved. At present, the possibility of allowing non-governmental organizations and associations to bring legal actions in cases of racial discrimination was being considered by the Ministry of Justice. Persons who were denied a public service on racial grounds could take legal action on the basis of section 349 (a) of the Penal Code.

248. Like the members of the Committee, the representative noted that there had been many complaints about the way the immigration authorities dealt with certain cases and said that consideration was being given to the possibility of having immigration personnel take special courses on racism.

Concluding observations

249. At its 1038th meeting, on 17 March 1994, the Committee adopted the following concluding observations.

(a) Introduction

250. Appreciation is expressed to the State party for its readiness to continue a dialogue with the Committee. It notes with satisfaction the submission by Norway of the core document (HRI/CORE/1/Add.6) containing useful information of a general character, and of a number of legislative acts adopted during the period under review. It is regretted, however, that the tenth and eleventh periodic reports were not submitted in due time and that neither previous reports nor the report under consideration contained replies of the Government to all comments made and questions raised by the Committee in the consideration of preceding reports.

(b) Positive aspects

251. The legislative measures adopted by the Government of Norway to bring the national legislation into closer conformity with the Convention and to enhance the protection of the human rights of Sami people and foreign nationals are welcomed. In that connection, note is taken of a new article 110 (a) inserted into the Constitution on 27 May 1988; of Act No. 78 of 21 December 1990 amending the Sami Act of 1987 and Act No. 24 of 1969; of Act No. 64 of 24 June 1988 concerning the entry of foreign nationals into the Kingdom of Norway; and of the revision of section 232 of the Penal Code to meet the requirements of article 4 (a). It is noted with satisfaction that Norway has ratified ILO Convention No. 169.

(c) Principal subjects of concern

252. Concern is expressed as to the status of the Convention in the domestic legal order of Norway and the lack of precise information about this in the report.

253. It is regretted that the report does not contain sufficient information on the demographic composition of the Norwegian population.

254. Concern is expressed once again that the State party has not implemented the provisions contained in article 4 (b) of the Convention and has not provided information on the practical implementation of provisions of article 4. In that connection, it is noted with concern that between 1982 and 1989 some 500 possible breaches of section 135 (a) of the Penal Code were reported to the authorities and that very few led to any proceedings. The situation has not improved since 1989. It is regretted that no information has been provided by the State party on the existing case law relevant to the Convention.

255. Concern is expressed that the exercise of discretion not to invoke criminal proceedings may result in an absence of effective remedies.

256. Further to reports about the use of local radio to disseminate ideas which may be in breach of article 4 (a) of the Convention, more detailed information is desired about the monitoring of transmissions and the implementation of procedures for receiving licences to broadcast.

257. Concern is expressed that the arrangements for compiling lists from which juries are selected may not guarantee to qualified persons of minority ethnic or national origin an equal chance that their names will appear on the lists.

258. Insufficient information was provided on measures to ensure that persons of minority ethnic and national origin receive equal protection against acts of violence, and on measures to counteract their reported belief that it is futile for them to report such attacks to the authorities.

259. Insufficient information was provided on the implementation of the provisions of article 5 of the Convention dealing with non-discrimination in respect of economic, social and cultural rights. Attention was drawn in 1977 to certain deficiencies in this field, which have still not been corrected.

(d) Suggestions and recommendations

260. The Committee requests the Government of Norway to provide information in its next report on the ethnic composition of the Norwegian population.

261. The Committee reaffirms that the provisions of article 4, paragraphs (a) and (b) are of a mandatory character as stated in general recommendation VII (32) of the Committee. It notes that so far these provisions have not been fully implemented in Norway; therefore, the Committee recommends that the State party should carry out each obligation under those mandatory provisions of the Convention. When doing so, the Government should also take into account general recommendation XV (42) of the Committee.

262. The Committee recommends that Norway both improve the training of public officials (including immigration officers) to avoid racial discrimination and improve methods of supervision to ensure that there are effective controls upon their conduct.

263. The Committee recommends that the State party review its measures for guaranteeing the human rights of asylum-seekers, in particular women and children, especially their economic and social rights, to see whether there is room for improvement.

264. The Committee recommends that the State party review its measures for guaranteeing the economic and social rights of naturalized immigrants and resident aliens of minority ethnic or national origin, with particular reference to the rights to work and to housing.

265. In view of the importance of measures in the fields of teaching, education and culture to combat prejudices that lead to racial discrimination, the Committee requests the State party to provide information to it on which measures it has found most effective, and which measures can reach those sections of the population most likely to engage in racist activities.

266. The Committee draws the attention of the State party to the dates on which forthcoming reports are due. It suggests that the combined twelfth and thirteenth reports be submitted early in June 1995 so that the Committee, at its forty-seventh session, may receive a considered response to the issues raised above.

267. The Committee draws the attention of the State party to the amendment to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, which was approved by the fifteenth meeting of States parties and by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/111, and encourages the State party to expedite its action formally to accept that amendment.


URL for areas of image outside of any defined elements.

Home || Treaties || Search || Links