Breivik’s big win

Breivik wins prison lawsuit against Norway

Staff Compilation
Aftenposten, AFP/The Local & VG

Anders Behring Breivik won parts of his lawsuit against the Norwegian state on April 20. The Oslo District Court believed that aspects of his prison conditions are a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits “inhuman or degrading” punishment. However, according to the Oslo court, the state has not violated Article 8: Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home, and his correspondence, VG reports.

In a written statement, the Oslo District Court said, “The court … has concluded that the prison conditions constitute inhuman treatment,” noting that the right-wing extremist had been held in isolation for almost five years. In accordance with the ruling, the state will have to pay Breivik’s case costs of some 330,000 kroner ($41,000), writes The Local.

According to AFP/The Local, the 37-year-old far-right extremist claimed at the hearing in March that his almost five-year isolation confinement is a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Oslo District Court agreed, in that the conditions, including games consoles, workout machines, and three cells at his disposal for his various activities, violated his rights under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“He must have contact with other people. Isolation confinement where he has no contact with others must be resolved,” said Breivik’s lawyer Øystein Storrvik at a press conference on April 20. Storrvik added, “We have had success in our first instance. I hope that this thorough review from the court will lead to a relief from the pressure to isolate him,” VG reports.

“The prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment represents a fundamental value in a democratic society. That applies no matter what, including in the treatment of terrorists and murderers,” the court statement read.

VG writes that Breivik is extremely dangerous and will probably spend the rest of his life in prison.

He must be prevented from communicating with supporters who may carry out new attacks, said authorities, while defending their use of handcuffs, strip searches, and strictly controlled correspondence and visits over the years, AFP/The Local reports.

Norway prides itself on a humane prison system aimed more at rehabilitation than punishment, and Breivik’s conditions are considered comfortable by most, writes AFP/The Local.

Thomas Horn, a partner in the law firm Schjødt and expert on isolation, told Aftenposten that it is not certain anything will change for Breivik following the court ruling: “An essential point in the judgment is that it calls for a better justification for the strict measures that have been implemented. There is more room for what can be allowed if it is based on thorough assessments.” He chose not to say whether he thinks the court ruling is wrong or right.

“Therefore, the outcome of the trial could have been slightly different if the prison had made more thorough assessments,” he said to Aftenposten.

This article originally appeared in the April 29, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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