24 March 2020

Marius Reikerås:

A brief report in the wake of the two ECtHR judgments against Norway on 10 March 2020

• • • •
    The original of this text was given as a speech on the day of the new judgments themselves, the 10 March 2020. It was in Norwegian and was published as a video on facebook. It was published as a text on 22 March.
    The written text in Norwegian is almost verbatim; only some repeated words, typical of spoken language, have been omitted. The translation also sticks fairly close to the spoken original. Some approximate times (in minutes and seconds) have been inserted to ease the correspondence with the Norwegian original, oral version, if anybody would like to check.
    The translation is published here with the author's kind consent.
    Translation: Marianne Haslev Skånland.
• • • •

Hello! This is Marius Reikerås from Bergen speaking – a rainy Bergen.

Today is the tenth of March and a very joyful day for all of us concerned with the fight against human rights violations in Norway. Today Norway was convicted in two separate cases in the
European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg, the case Hernehult v. Norway and the case Pedersen and others v. Norway respectively.

In both cases, Norway was convicted unanimously of violations of the
European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), Article 8.

So that means that right now, Norway has been
convicted seven times since September 2018, in Article 8 cases, the Article about the protection of family life. That is a record number, sensationally high for a nation as small as Norway.

(0:58; about 8:18 remaining)

It certainly shows those of us who have been fighting this regime for many years that we have been right. Systematic violations take place in Norway and, Norway now having been convicted seven times and at risk of being found guilty in a series of cases pending as well, this means that in reality the large majority of Article 8 cases in Norway regulated within the area of child protection law have been mismanaged in the Norwegian judicial system.

Many of us have been aware of this for a long time. But now we have had it fully confirmed for us. That has implications for all those whose cases are
not in the ECtHR as well, since only the tip of the iceberg are granted admission to the ECtHR.

(1:46; about 7:28 remaining)

So my recommendation to those of you who believe you have been subject to abuse by the Norwegian justice system is that it must be considered, on the basis of these convictions, whether to ask the courts to reopen the cases. Because this, then, is systematised failure. And most likely almost all cases which have gone through the Norwegian system have in one way or another been mismanaged in relation to ECHR Article 8.

And there are many who know Norwegian judges to have held a hateful attitude to all this about Article 8, one in which, not even hiding it, the stance adopted has been that Article 8 is not to be taken account of in our national justice system. We see the contour of it now. That is exactly what has happened: Article 8 has been neglected.

(2:54; about 6:22 remaining)

Something else is important and should be noted: the Court in Strasbourg, i.e the European Court of Human Rights, has little or no confidence in the way Norwegian courts assess proof. Here, too, we can see a connecting line from the NAV (the
Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration) cases – also very well known – in which Ina Strømstad, spokeswoman for Norwegian judges, said – had to admit – that Norwegian judges almost exclusively went by the arguments forwarded by the public party.

We see the contours of that too, in these judgments from Strasbourg: that Strasbourg is severely critical of the fact that Norwegian judges decide very harsh interference, without demands for proof being given appropriate weight in the national judgments.

In other words: It is assumed that when the public party is someone's opponent, then the public party's contentions are practically the truth without going into the matter at all. The ECtHR has placed emphasis on this, for example in the Lobben judgment, and also in the Hernehult judgment which was published today.

(4:10; about 5:07 remaining)

I want to encourage you, therefore, to keep fighting, since we still have a long way to go, but also to make use of these judgments coming from Strasbourg. Read them closely. For many of you there is a potential now in demanding that your cases are taken up again in Norwegian courts as well.

There is of course a limit to how many child protection cases the ECtHR can handle. We have now reached the situation that the Court has passed a sufficiently large number of judgments making it possible to start raising these cases in the committees, precisely because this is a systemic failure, not just the odd individual case.

(4:53; about 4:22 remaining)

Some people have also asked me about the possibility of raising a collective charge at the ICC, the
International Criminal Court. That might be possible. We shall have to see how things develop, but there are more than enough judgments – seven convictions in the short time frame we are speaking about – to show that this is not at all a question of some single case, this is systemic failure, and it has been done in a way exposing that these are, unfortunately, very deliberate actions on the part of the authorities.

An example is Supreme Court judge Bergljot Webster, who has been involved in a number of the seven cases of which Norway has already been convicted. She is also involved in several of the cases pending in Strasbourg now. This must, of course, mean that a question is asked regarding what her motives have been for having contributed to committing these massive human rights violations that she has now been convicted of.

Today our Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Toril Øie, was convicted, too, in the Pedersen case. She took part in the case when it was up before the Supreme Court, and the ECtHR has now concluded that the handling of the case and the way this was carried out in Norway, was not good enough in relation to the ECHR Article 8.

Arnfinn Bårdsen, who is Norway's judge in the ECtHR at present, could not take part in processing the last two cases in Strasbourg, being disqualified precisely because of having taken part when both the Hernehult and the Pedersen case were up before the Supreme Court.

And he has been involved in both of the Supreme Court cases about the NAV interpretations too, one in 2011 and one in 2017, in which innocent people were sentenced to imprisonment, exactly because Norway did not take account of the international legislative framework.

(6:55; about 2:20 remaining)

We have here a massive, massive judicial scandal, then, or should we rather say scandals. If we see this in the light of the gigantic scandal now blazing up in the wake of the Scandinavian Star, the Norwegian police practically cooking up a perpetrator, knowing full well that they did
not have the perpetrator, it shows us a system which we must absolutely take seriously, one having for too long made it easy for the authorities to as good as fabricate their cases in a way leading to hundreds – thousands – of people suffering extreme miscarriages of justice.

(7:45; about 1:32 remaining)

I will probably come back, then, with more information later. This is a day of joy regardless, in that Norway has again been convicted, in two very important cases. We have now moved to a new phase, with enough convictions to show that these are far from accidental individual cases, this is a system that has betrayed its people.

And the judicial system, or Norway's judges, are the protagonists of this judicial scandal. When people say that this is a massive thrust against Norwegian child protection, they are not quite precise, because the courts are the primary objects convicted in the ECtHR. But certainly, both the executive and the judiciary are responsible for what we now see.

(8:33; about 0:43 remaining)

So keep at it; this is certainly a tremendous burst of energy to continue our struggle against what we have for far too long considered to be systematic human rights violations. We have now seen it confirmed. And it may have a direct bearing on
you – you should check it up in relation to your own case. The provision for having cases reopened is found in the civil procedure act and it is possible to demand that cases corresponding to those for which our courts have now been convicted in the ECtHR, be reopened. Think about it!

And anyway, all the best in what lies ahead!




Convictions of Norway in the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in cases concerning child protection (Barnevern)
MHS's home page, updated on 12 March 2020

Øivind Østberg:
The fight over the future of child protection in Norway is hardening
MHS's home page, 8 March 2020

Anita Skippervik:
Norwegian methods of investigation of child protection cases do not meet international standards
MHS's home page, 2 March 2019

Marianne Haslev Skånland:
The Norwegian state's interpretation of the ECtHR judgments about our child protection Barnevernet
MHS's home page, 9 March 2020

 – :  
Judgment against Marius Reikerås quashed
MHS's home page, 30 May 2017

 – :  
Human Rights in Norway – as Low as they can Go
MHS's home page, July 2004

Nils Morten Udgaard:
Norway and 'civil society'
MHS's home page, 13 November 2016

Bartosz Zalewski:
Commentary to the proposal of new law on rights of children in Norway
MHS's home page, 24 october 2019

Jan Simonsen:
Prime Minister Erna Solberg's whitewashing of the CPS Barnevernet
MHS's hjemmeside, 7 January 2019

Lennart Sjöberg:
Adele Johansen vs. Norway: A Mother fighting for her child
nkmr, 30 November 2001