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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Norway is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The government consists of a prime minister, a cabinet, and a 169-seat parliament (Storting), which is elected every four years and may not be dissolved. The monarch generally appoints the leader of the majority party or majority coalition as prime minister with the approval of parliament. Observers considered the multiparty parliamentary elections in September 2017 to be free and fair.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

There were no reports of egregious human rights abuses.

The government investigated officials who committed violations.

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

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities.

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

The constitution and law prohibit such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

There were no significant reports regarding prison or detention center conditions that raised human rights concerns.

Physical Conditions: Prisons and detention centers generally met international standards, and there were no major concerns regarding physical conditions or inmate abuse.

Administration: Procedures are in place to report abuse or mistreatment of prisoners or other detainees. Authorities conducted proper investigations of credible allegations of mistreatment.

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted visits, including unannounced visits, by independent human rights observers.

Improvements: In response to concerns raised in 2016 and 2017 by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including Amnesty International Norway and the Norwegian Organization for Asylum Seekers (NOAS) as well as the parliamentary civilian ombudsman, the government remodeled the Trandum detention center, where rejected asylum applicants are held before deportation. The facility was upgraded to include single rooms with separate bathrooms. Because Trandum is not a criminal detention facility, internal security practices were relaxed, and guards no longer wear uniforms. The government also established a separate facility in Hurdal, north of Oslo, that is better equipped than Trandum to accommodate families with young children whose asylum applications were rejected.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention and provide for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his or her arrest or detention in court, and the government generally observed these requirements.

ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS

The national police have primary responsibility for internal security. Police may call on the armed forces for assistance in crises. In such circumstances, the armed forces operate under police authority. The National Police Directorate oversees the police force.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the national police, and the government has effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces.

ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES

The law requires warrants authorized by a prosecutor for arrests. The police may make an arrest without a warrant if any delay would entail risk of injury to the police or civilians or damage to property. If police arrest a person without a warrant, a prosecutor must consider as soon as possible whether to uphold the arrest. Detainees must be informed of the charges against them immediately after an arrest, and, if the prosecutor wishes to detain suspects, he or she must arraign them no later than three days after arrest. The arraigning judge determines whether the accused should be held in custody or released pending trial. There is a bail system, but it was rarely utilized. Officials routinely released defendants accused of minor crimes pending trial, including nonresident foreigners. Defendants accused of serious or violent crimes usually remained in custody until trial. Before interrogation, authorities allowed detainees access to a lawyer of their choice or, if the requested lawyer was unavailable, to an attorney appointed by the government. The government pays the attorney fees in all cases. Authorities usually allowed arrested persons access to family members.

The law mandates that detainees be transferred from a temporary police holding cell to a regular prison cell within 48 hours.

The law provides that a court must supervise whether and how long a detainee may be held in solitary confinement during pretrial detention. Spot counts by prison authorities revealed an average of almost 100 prisoners in solitary confinement (among an average prison population of 3,800). In 2017, the latest year for which data was available, the Correctional Services Directorate received six reports of cases where the total period of solitary confinement of a prisoner exceeded 42 days (after which authorities must evaluate the status every 14 days).

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.

TRIAL PROCEDURES

The constitution and the law provide for the right to a fair and public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and the right to be informed promptly of the charges against them. Trials were held without undue delay. Defendants have the right to be present at their trials. Defendants also have the right to counsel of their choice at public expense, to adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense, to free interpretation as necessary from the moment charged through all appeals, to confront and question adverse witnesses, to present their own evidence and witnesses, and to appeal. Defendants may not be compelled to testify or to confess guilt.

POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES

Individuals or organizations may seek civil remedies for human rights violations through domestic courts. They may appeal cases alleging violations of the European Convention on Human Rights by the government to the European Court of Human Rights after exhausting all avenues of appeal in domestic courts.

PROPERTY RESTITUTION

The government and the Jewish Community reported that Holocaust-era restitution was not an issue and that no litigation or restitution claims regarding real or immovable property covered by the Terezin Declaration, which the government endorsed, were pending before authorities.

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

The constitution and law prohibit such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The constitution and law provide for freedom of expression, including for the press, and the government generally respected this right. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of expression, including for the press.

Freedom of Expression: The law prohibits “threatening or insulting anyone, or inciting hatred or repression of or contempt for anyone because of his or her (a) skin color or national or ethnic origin, (b) religion or life stance, (c) sexual orientation or lifestyle, or (d) disability.” Violators are subject to a fine or imprisonment for not more than three years. According to the government ombudsman for equality and discrimination (LDO), hate speech on the internet against ethnic minorities; religious groups; women; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons continued to be a problem.

Press and Media Freedom: Independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views without restriction. The prohibitions against hate speech applied also to the print and broadcast media, the publication of books, and online newspapers and journals.

INTERNET FREEDOM

The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports that the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority. According to the International Telecommunication Union, 97 percent of the population used the internet in 2017.

ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND CULTURAL EVENTS

There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The constitution and law provide for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights.

c. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.

The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons in other countries, refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, or other persons of concern.

PROTECTION OF REFUGEES

Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. The government made permanent the majority of the temporary restrictions implemented in 2015 and 2016. NGOs continued to criticize the government for rejecting a high percentage of the asylum claims from Afghans. As of June authorities deported 321 persons who had arrived in the country as asylum seekers, of whom 124 were Afghans.

Safe Country of Origin/Transit: The country is party to the EU’s Dublin III regulation, which allows the government to transfer asylum seekers to the European country determined to be responsible under the regulation for adjudicating the case.

Freedom of Movement: The law permits detention of migrants to establish their identity or to deport them if authorities deem it likely the persons would evade an order to leave. The detention is limited and subject to judicial review.

Employment: Regulations allow asylum seekers who reside in integration facilities to obtain employment while their applications are under review. Eligible asylum seekers must fulfill certain criteria, including: possession of valid documentation proving identity, a finding following an asylum interview that the individual will likely receive asylum, and participation in government-defined “integration” programs that assist asylum seekers in adapting to Norwegian society by the use of educational resources such as language or job training.

Durable Solutions: The government offered resettlement for refugees in cooperation with UNHCR. The government’s Directorate of Immigration (UDI) had several programs to settle refugees permanently in the country. According to the UDI, as of July the country accepted 1,326 refugees for resettlement.

Through the International Organization for Migration and other government partners, the government assisted the return of unsuccessful asylum seekers to their countries of origin through voluntary programs that offered financial and logistical support for repatriation. Identity documents issued by either the Norwegian or the returnee’s government are required in order to use this program. The government continued routinely to offer migrants cash support in addition to airfare to encourage persons with weak or rejected asylum claims to leave the country voluntarily.

Individuals granted refugee status may apply for citizenship when they meet the legal requirements, which include a minimum length of residence of seven out of the previous 10 years, completion of language training, and successful completion of a Norwegian language test and a course on Norwegian society.

On January 18, the government transferred responsibility for integrating immigrants from the Ministry of Justice and Public Security to the Ministry of Education and Research.

Temporary Protection: The government provided temporary humanitarian protection to individuals who may not qualify as refugees and provided it to 49 individuals through the end of August. The permits for temporary protection may be renewed and can become permanent. The government also provided temporary protection to six unaccompanied minors, who were granted residence permits in the country until the age of 18.

STATELESS PERSONS

According to UNCHR, 3,282 stateless persons lived in the country at the end of 2017; they were not counted as refugees. According to the UDI, at the end of August, an additional 164 stateless asylum seekers lived in reception centers, a decrease of 53 percent from the same period in 2017. Of these, 31 persons had permission to stay, and 15 were under orders to leave the country. The remainder continued the asylum application process.

The government effectively implemented laws and policies to provide stateless persons the opportunity to gain nationality on a nondiscriminatory basis.

Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution and law provide citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: Observers considered the parliamentary elections held in September 2017 to be free and fair.

Participation of Women and Minorities: No laws limit the participation of women or members of minorities in the political process, and they did participate.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implemented the law effectively. There were no reports of government corruption during the year.

Financial Disclosure: By law income and asset information from the tax forms of all citizens, including public officials, must be made public each year. Failure to declare properly may result in up to two years in prison. Each year ministers and members of parliament must declare their income, assets, liabilities, outside employment, and holdings in public companies. Ministers may face fines for noncompliance, but the law does not provide formal sanctions for members of parliament. Disclosures made by ministers and members of parliament are publicly available on the parliamentary website within 20 days of disclosure. Civil servants face fines if they fail to disclose any conflict of interest during decision-making. Ministers, members of parliament, and civil servants must disclose any employment obtained within a year after leaving public service.

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A variety of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials often were cooperative and responsive to their views.

Government Human Rights Bodies: The country has ombudsmen for public administration (the parliamentary ombudsman), children, and equality and the LDO. The parliamentary ombudsman is appointed by parliament, while the government appoints the others. All ombudsmen enjoyed the government’s cooperation and operated without government interference. The parliamentary ombudsman and the LDO hear complaints against actions by government officials. Although the ombudsmen’s recommendations are not legally binding, authorities usually complied with them.

Parliament’s Standing Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs reviews the reports of the parliamentary ombudsman, while the Standing Committee on Justice is responsible for matters relating to the judicial system; police; and the penal, civil, and criminal codes.

The Norwegian National Human Rights Institution submits an annual report on human rights in the country to parliament. It makes recommendations to help ensure that the country’s international human rights obligations are fulfilled by advising the government, disseminating public information, promoting education and research on human rights, and facilitating cooperation with relevant public bodies.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and the government generally enforced the law. The penalty for rape is up to 21 years in prison, depending on the severity of the assault, the age of the victim, and the circumstances in which the crime occurred. Most cases resulted in sentences of three years and four months in prison.

The law provides penalties for domestic violence of up to six years in prison and up to 21 years for aggravated rape. Violence against women, including spousal abuse, was a problem. The government generally enforced the law, although the foundation Oslo Crisis Center continued to criticize the conviction rate (approximately 10 percent) as too low.

The government had programs to prevent rape and domestic violence, and offices within the police districts offered counsel and support to victims. All police districts had a domestic violence coordinator. NGOs claimed that a lack of training, standardized procedures and resources hindered the investigation and prosecution of rape and domestic violence cases in a timely manner with most cases closed without arrest or prosecution.

Public and private organizations operated 47 government-funded shelters and managed five 24-hour crisis hotlines. The Oslo Crisis Center repeated its claim that the network of shelters was too small. Victims of domestic violence have a right to consult a lawyer free of charge before deciding whether to make a formal complaint. If the government initiates criminal proceedings, the victim is entitled to free assistance from a victim’s advocate. Victims may also qualify for a one-time payment from a government-sponsored fund.

Sexual Harassment: The law provides that “employees shall not be subjected to harassment or other unseemly behavior,” and the government effectively enforced this provision. Employers who violate this law are subject to fines or prison sentences of up to two years, depending on the seriousness of the offense. The costs and resources needed to bring such cases to court have been barriers to victims seeking redress in all but the most egregious cases. The revised Equality and Antidiscrimination Ombud Act, which entered into force on January 1, created an Antidiscrimination Tribunal to process antidiscrimination cases, including sexual harassment. This new tribunal offers victims a lower-threshold option to initiate cases at lower costs and with fewer legal hurdles.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Discrimination: Women have the same legal status as men, but they experienced discrimination in employment (see section 7.d.). Approximately 20 percent (21 of 106) of complaints received and investigated by the LDO in 2017 concerned discrimination based on gender. The law mandates that 40 percent of the members of boards of directors of publicly listed companies be women, and virtually all public companies complied with the law.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from one’s parents; children born in the country do not automatically become citizens. All birth clinics in the country reported births to a central birth register and provided the parents with a birth certificate. The birth certificate does not confer citizenship.

Child Abuse: In 2017 the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth, and Family Affairs initiated 48,732 investigations of alleged child abuse and completed 48,235. By the end of 2017, the government’s Child Welfare Services assisted 39,612 children, of whom 30,579 received in-home assistance, while 9,033 were removed from their family home.

An independent children’s ombudsman office under the Ministry of Children and Equality is responsible under the law for the protection of children and providing assistance and support services. If criminal proceedings are initiated, the victim is entitled to free assistance from a victim’s advocate.

Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum legal age for marriage in the country is 18 for both women and men. An amendment to the law that came into effect on July 1 prohibits children who are ages 16 through 18 from marrying; this had previously been legal with the consent of the parents or guardians and permission from the county governor.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: Commercial sexual exploitation of children younger than age 18 is illegal, both in the country and abroad when committed by a citizen of the country. In both cases the punishment is either a fine or a prison sentence of up to two years. Child pornography is also illegal and punishable by a fine or a prison sentence of up to three years. The government generally enforced the laws. The minimum age for consensual sex is 16.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data.html.

Anti-Semitism

Approximately 1,400 Jews lived in the country, 700 of whom belonged to Jewish congregations. Jewish community leaders reported the public generally supported the community.

On June 15 at a concert celebrating diversity, rapper Kaveh Kholardi asked whether there were any Jews in the audience. He then exclaimed “F****** Jews. No, just kidding.” The concert’s organizer, the City of Oslo, reportedly both followed up with the artist and publicly apologized to those whom Kholardi offended. Kholardi claimed to be “neither a racist nor hates Jews.” He did not apologize but wrote on social media that the quote was taken out of context. He stated, “the last thing he wished was to cultivate conflict.”

In July the European Jewish Council expressed concern that at least two hospitals, the Stavanger University Hospital and the Haukeland University Hospital, were violating the law by refusing to perform circumcisions for children younger than age three. The law requires public hospitals to offer religious circumcision services either at their facilities or through a contractor.

In August the local Jewish community condemned as anti-Semitic an editorial cartoon published in the newspaper Dagbladet. The cartoon depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a body shaped as a swastika.

The government continued to implement measures from its Action Plan against Anti-Semitism 2016-2020. Under the plan, police are supposed to include anti-Semitism as a separate category of hate crime in police statistics. The action plan also institutionalized the reporting of anti-Semitic attitudes in society every five years. The action plan provides for integrating anti-Semitism education into all schools, supporting Jewish museums and cultural institutions, and funding research on anti-Semitism and Jewish life and public advocacy programs to combat anti-Semitism.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The constitution and law prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities, and the government effectively enforced and implemented these provisions. The law mandates access to public buildings, information, and communications for persons with disabilities.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Discrimination against immigrants, including asylum seekers and irregular migrants, and ethnic minorities remained a problem. Ethnic discrimination occurred in employment.

Racial profiling is against the law, but authorities did not keep records relating to the stop and search of members of vulnerable groups. NGOs such as the Norwegian Center against Racism continued to report complaints of police profiling of members of ethnic and racial minority groups, particularly young men. According to the NGO, many incidents went unreported to authorities because victims declined to pursue charges often due to fear that it would result in scrutiny of the victim’s immigration status.

The government continued to implement the national strategy against hate speech released in late 2016.

In addition to the Sami, five ethnically non-Norwegian groups with a long-standing attachment to the country have a special protected status under the law: Kvens/Norwegian Finns, Jews, Forest Finns, Roma, and Romani/Tater people (a distinct group of travelers who emigrated to Norway and Sweden in the 1500s).

Several NGO’s expressed concern that members of the Romani community still experienced difficulty accessing social welfare services due to cultural barriers and an unwillingness by social welfare providers to provide outreach to address these barriers.

Indigenous People

There is no official registry of Sami in the country. As of January government statistics showed that 55,544 persons lived in the areas defined as “Sami,” in the northern part of the country. In addition to participating freely in the national political process, the Sami elect their own parliament, the Samediggi. Elections for the Sami parliament took place in September 2017.

In May the Norwegian National Institution for Human Rights submitted data to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child indicating that the Sami people experienced discrimination in several areas of social life. In particular, the Sami experienced discrimination in the public health system and education system. Sami children were also not always afforded their right to Sami-language education.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment, citizenship law, and access to government services such as health care. While violence motivated by discriminatory attitudes towards transgender persons is not considered a hate crime, crimes based on discriminatory attitudes towards sexual orientation can be treated as aggravated crimes.

The Association of Gender and Sexual Diversity repeated its concern about underreporting of sexual orientation as a factor in hate crimes, and worked with the police to provide better training and education on this matter.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

The Norwegian Center against Racism reported continued anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment in society.

Section 7. Worker Rights

a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

The law provides for the right of workers, including migrant workers (those who have a work permit in the country), to form and join independent unions, bargain collectively, and conduct legal strikes. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination and requires reinstatement of workers fired for union activity.

The right to strike excludes members of the military and senior civil servants. With the approval of parliament, the government may compel arbitration in any industrial sector if it determines that a strike threatens public safety. Trade unions criticized the government for intervening too quickly in labor disputes.

The government effectively enforced applicable laws. The penalties were sufficient to deter violations.

b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law provides for the right of workers, including migrant workers (those who have a work permit in the country), to form and join independent unions, bargain collectively, and conduct legal strikes. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination and requires reinstatement of workers fired for union activity.

The right to strike excludes members of the military and senior civil servants. With the approval of parliament, the government may compel arbitration in any industrial sector if it determines that a strike threatens public safety. Trade unions criticized the government for intervening too quickly in labor disputes.

The government effectively enforced applicable laws. The penalties were sufficient to deter violations.

c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

Children between the ages of 13 and 15 may be employed up to 12 hours per week in light work that does not adversely affect their health, development, or schooling. Examples of light work include assistant work in offices or stores. Children younger than age 15 need parental permission to work and those older than 15 can work as part of vocational training, as long as they are supervised. Between the ages of 15 and 18, children not in school may work up to 40 hours per week and a maximum eight hours per day. The law limits work by children who remain in school to only those hours “not affecting schooling” without specific limits, but less than 40 hours per week. Child welfare laws explicitly protect children from exploitive labor practices. The government effectively enforced these laws, and both civil and criminal penalties were sufficient to deter violations.

While employers generally observed minimum age rules, there were reports that children were trafficked for forced labor (see section 7.b.). Children were subjected to forced begging and criminal activity, particularly drug smuggling and theft. Commercial sexual exploitation of children also occurred (see section 6, Children). There were also reports of children forced to work as unpaid domestic help.

d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation

The law prohibits discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. The government effectively enforced the law and invoked penalties when violations were discovered.

Discrimination in employment and occupation occurred with respect to gender and ethnicity. The law provides that women and men engaged in the same activity shall receive equal wages for work of equal value. In 2017 women earned on average 13.3-percent less than men on a monthly basis, according to Statistics Norway, which also reported that 37 percent of women and 14.6 percent of men worked part time in 2017.

Equally qualified immigrants sometimes had more difficulty finding employment than nonimmigrants. As of August the unemployment rate among immigrants was 5.3 percent, compared with 3.9 percent among nonimmigrants, according to Statistics Norway. African immigrants had the highest unemployment rate at 9.4 percent, followed by Asians at 6 percent, immigrants from eastern EU countries at 5.7 percent, and South and Central Americans at 5.4 percent.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The law does not mandate an official minimum wage. Instead, minimum wages were set in collective bargaining agreements. Statistics Norway uses 60 percent of the median household income for the relative poverty limit, which in 2016 was 298,560 kroner ($36,000) per year. In 2016, the most recent year for which data were available, 11.6 percent of the total population had an income below the poverty limit.

The law provides for premium pay of 40 percent of salary for overtime and prohibits compulsory overtime in excess of 10 hours per week.

The law provides the same benefits for citizens and foreign workers with residency permits but forbids the employment of foreign workers who do not have residency permits. The law provides for safe and physically acceptable working conditions for all employed persons. The NLIA, in consultation with nongovernment experts, sets occupational safety and health standards. These standards are appropriate across all sectors of the industry in the country. The law requires enterprises with 50 or more workers to establish environment committees composed of management, workers, and health-care personnel. Enterprises with 10 or more workers must have safety delegates elected by their employees. Workers may remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardy to their employment; authorities effectively protected employees in this situation.

The NLIA effectively enforced laws and standards regarding acceptable work conditions in the formal sector. The number of labor inspectors was sufficient to enforce compliance. The NLIA may close an enterprise immediately if the life or health of employees is in imminent danger and may report enterprises to police for serious breaches of the law. A serious violation may result in fines or, in the worst case, imprisonment. The penalties were sufficient to deter violations.

2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Norway
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