Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 16:28 GMT

Amnesty International Report 2015/16 - Norway

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 24 February 2016
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2015/16 - Norway, 24 February 2016, available at: [accessed 16 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Kingdom of Norway
Head of state: King Harald V
Head of government: Erna Solberg

A new, independent national human rights institution was established. The Ministry of Health proposed legislation to improve access to legal gender recognition for transgender people. Serious concerns remained about rape and other violence against women.


On 1 July the National Institution for Human Rights was re-established as an independent body reporting to Parliament. Prior to this, since its establishment in 2002, it had been part of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights based in the Law Faculty at the University of Oslo.


On 19 January, the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by a Rwandan national against his 2013 conviction by the Oslo District Court for murder during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The Court of Appeal confirmed his sentence of 21 years' imprisonment for premeditated complicity in the murder of 2,000 people in two massacres, and of seven people in a separate incident. He appealed against the decision to the Supreme Court. He was not charged with genocide, as the article defining genocide only entered into force in 2008 and does not have retroactive effect.


In June, the Ministry of Health proposed legislation granting transgender people access to legal gender recognition from the age of 16 on the basis of self-identification. Children aged between seven and 16 will have access to legal gender recognition with the consent of parents or guardians. The proposed law is expected to be presented to Parliament and put to a vote during 2016.[1]

Despite this positive development, violence motivated by discriminatory attitudes towards transgender people was still not criminalized as hate crime.


Serious concerns remained about rape and violence against women, in particular around the legal definition of rape in the Penal Code, low conviction rates and inadequate access for rape survivors to reparation and rehabilitation. In January the National Police Directorate published an evaluation which concluded that police investigations were unsatisfactory in 40% of sexual violence cases reported to the police.


According to government statistics, 31,145 people claimed asylum in Norway during the year, a three-fold increase on 2014.

In April, the government announced that children of asylum-seekers whose applications had been rejected and who had been returned to their countries of origin between 1 July 2014 and 18 March 2015, after spending four and a half years or more in Norway, could seek to have their cases reopened. The move followed strong criticism of the immigration authorities' previously narrow interpretation of the principle of the best interests of the child in asylum and removal proceedings.

On 25 November the Ministry of Justice issued an instruction which denied access to the asylum procedure in Norway for any person who applied for protection after having lived in or transited through Russia. Third-country nationals, including those without any regular legal status in Russia, faced being returned to Russia. This caused particular concern for Syrian asylum-seekers. The decision followed Parliament's adoption of amendments to section 32 of the Immigration Act 2008, earlier in November, removing any requirement for Norwegian authorities to consider whether asylum-seekers had had an application for protection examined in another country en route to Norway.


In October, after two years' delay, the government launched a national action plan to implement the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights. The action plan lacked clarity on due diligence and the extent to which the guiding principles ought to apply to Norwegian companies operating in the country and those operating abroad.

[1] Norway: High hopes for a watershed moment on transgender rights (News story, 10 April)

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