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 of up to six years in prison for domestic violence 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 counseling and support to victims. All police districts had a domestic violence coordinator. In March the government launched a three-year Action Plan against Rape outlining 33 specific measures to be taken, focusing on prevention, improvements of care and services to victims, and improvements to the judicial system.
Public and private organizations operated 47 government-funded shelters and managed five 24-hour crisis hotlines. 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.
In June the government released its Action Plan against Domestic Violence. The Ministry of Justice implemented the plan with specific responsibilities delegated to the Ministry of Children and Families, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry Elderly Care. The plan also engaged the Sami community and a range of NGO’s and research organizations as implementing partners.
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 the 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. A new Antidiscrimination Tribunal became operational and assumed jurisdiction for such complaints from the LDO.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.
Discrimination: Under the law public and private authorities must advance gender equality in all areas of society. The law mandates that 40 percent of the members of boards of directors of publicly listed companies be women. Although women have the same legal status as men, they experienced discrimination in terms of gaining employment as well as discrimination in the workplace itself (see section 7.d.). As of September, 78 of 300 (26 percent) complaints reported to the tribunal involved gender discrimination.
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 2018 the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth, and Family Affairs initiated 47,279 investigations of alleged child abuse and completed 48,194. By the end of 2018, the government’s Child Welfare Services assisted 39,043 children, of whom 30,175 received in-home assistance, while 8,868 were removed from their family home.
An independent children’s ombudsman office under the Ministry of Children and Families 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.
In September the ECHR ruled that the government violated the European Convention on Human Rights when the Child Welfare Services allowed a woman’s son to be adopted without her consent. As of September the ECHR was reviewing 23 other cases against the Child Welfare Services.
Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum legal age for marriage in the country is 18 for both women and men.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Commercial sexual exploitation of children younger than 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 law. 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/reported-cases.html.
Approximately 1,400 Jews lived in the country, 780 of whom belonged to Jewish congregations. Jewish community leaders reported the public and government generally supported the community although they acknowledged incidents of anti-Semitism.
According to NGOs and research institutes, including the University of Oslo, the Institute for Social Research, and the Jewish community, hate speech on the internet against ethnic minorities and religious groups continued to be a problem. In 2018 several Jewish organizations filed criminal complaints for hate speech against rapper Kaveh Kholardi, who used the phrase “F****** Jews” during a concert, which was promptly condemned by the City of Oslo as well as the leader of the country’s Jewish community and the Israeli Ambassador. In March after a criminal investigation, the Prosecuting Authority decided not to prosecute Kholardi. The then director of public prosecutions, Tor-Aksel Busch, rejected an appeal to overrule the Oslo Police District’s decision, and reignited the controversy when as part of his decision he implied that Kholardi’s statement could be interpreted as legitimate criticism of the State of Israel as opposed to an anti-Semitic comment. Critics noted that, during the entirety of the incident, there was no mention of any specific Israeli policies or actions by Kholardi and the words “Israel” or “Israeli” were never used. One of the complainants, the group With Israel for Peace, noted that the decision not to prosecute was “alarming because [the Director of Public Prosecutions] finds ambiguity where there is none.” Subsequently the Prosecuting Authority recanted this portion of its decision but allowed the overall decision to reject the appeal to stand.
In June, Tore Tvedt, leader of the neo-Nazi organization Vigrid, was convicted of racism and hate speech after sending 1,300 emails to schools and day-care institutions in which he claimed that schools “brainwashed children into worshippers of Jews,” and referred to Jews as “reptiles” and “parasites” on his blog. Tvedt was sentenced to 60 days in prison.
In July the National Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) published a cartoon that was criticized for being anti-Semitic. The cartoon depicted a man playing scrabble with an Orthodox rabbi who constructed the word “jodesvin” (“Jewish swine”) with his tiles. After heavy criticism, on July 26, the NRK decided to remove the cartoon from its website and issued a public apology.
The government continued to implement measures from its Action Plan against Anti-Semitism 2016-2020 and provided an additional two million krone ($230,000) in funding under the current budget. The action plan provided programmatic support and coordination towards integrating anti-Semitism education into all schools, supporting Jewish museums and cultural institutions, 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 https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.
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.
According to the Antidiscrimination Tribunal, as of September, 108 of the 300 (36 percent) discrimination complaints it received were based on disability.
During the year the government released a strategy to ensure equality for persons with disabilities. The 10-year strategy aims to reduce discrimination, increase access and opportunities to housing, transportation, employment and health care as well as participation in cultural and social activities.
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. During the year the Antidiscrimination Tribunal received four cases of ethnic discrimination by the police or judiciary.
According to NGOs and research institutes, including the University of Oslo, the Institute for Social Research, and the Center against Racism, hate speech on the internet against ethnic minorities, continued to be a problem. 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).
There is no official registry of Sami in the country. As of January 2018, 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, which exercises certain administrative and financial powers according to the law. Members of the Sami parliament also represent their constituents in international fora and organizations such as the Arctic Council and the United Nations. Elections for the Sami parliament took place in 2017.
NGOs and Sami officials continued to express concern over Sami children’s lack of access to Sami language education due to a lack of qualified teachers.
The Sami remained concerned about high levels of domestic violence within Sami communities and a lack of cultural understanding and training by police and social welfare services which has rendered many domestic violence prevention, treatment, and criminal justice programs ineffective. Favoring a more Sami community-based approach that relies on increased recruiting of Sami to work in these programs the Sami community welcomed the invitation to play a significant role in developing and implementing the Action Plan against Domestic Violence released in June. The Sami have expressed concern about damage to their traditional reindeer grazing areas and migratory routes by land development and extractive industries. They have also objected to what they considered to be inadequate consultation by the government regarding restrictions on the maximum size of their herds.
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.
According to NGOs and research institutes, including the University of Oslo, the Institute for Social Research, and FRI–The Organization for Sexual and Gender Diversity, hate speech on the internet against ethnic minorities, religious groups, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons continued to be a problem. The Institute for Social Research publicized a study that found that one in four members of the LGBTI community experienced some form of hate speech, compared with 10 percent of the general population.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
Media and the Norwegian Center against Racism reported continued anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment in society. In a video posted online by the group Stop Islamization of Norway (SIAN), Fanny “Anna” Braten, its deputy leader, stated that “Islam has no place in Norway and that all Qurans must be destroyed.” In February the Public Prosecutor indicted Braten and SIAN leader Lars Thorsen under hate crime legislation for leaflets handed out by the group at a SIAN event in June 2018 in Stovener and a speech in September 2018 in front of the parliament building. The leaflets and speech contained statements such as “good Muslims are notorious sexual predators,” asserting that all Muslims were sex offenders, killers, and a terrorist threat. During a subsequent trial in November, Thorsen was convicted and given a 30-day suspended jail sentence and fined 20,000 krone ($2,300). Braten was acquitted after Thorsen stated that he was the sole author of the leaflets and was the primary individual handing them out.
On August 10, Philip Manshaus allegedly killed his adopted Chinese stepsister and attempted to commit a mass shooting at the al-Noor Islamic Center in Baerum, a neighboring municipality to Oslo. Manshaus entered the mosque between prayer services, so few people were present, and was overpowered by a 65-year-old member of the mosque. Police apprehended Manshaus, and authorities investigated him for terrorism and murder. The investigation revealed that he was active in online forums for white supremacists and inspired by the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15. The Manshaus incident was universally condemned by the prime minister and leaders of all political parties. Manshaus was being held in pretrial detention pending a full investigation by prosecutors. Police also seized Manshaus’s property pending the outcome of the investigation and probable trial.
On November 2, the Danish white supremist association Scandza Forum organized a conference in Oslo featuring several American and European speakers. Shortly before the event, the Police Security Service arrested white supremist author and publisher Greg Johnson under the Immigration Act on the grounds that he could influence others to commit violence. Police also arrested 28 counterprotestors who disobeyed police instructions and attempted to storm the conference. Johnson was detained and deported to Hungary two days after his arrest.
According to NGOs and research institutes, including the University of Oslo, the Institute for Social Research, and the Center against Racism, hate speech on the internet against religious groups continued to be a problem. In August the government announced that it would develop a five-year action plan to combat anti-Muslim sentiment and xenophobia. Discussions about the plan had begun earlier this year, but the shooting at a mosque in the Oslo suburbs solidified the decision and prompted a formal announcement by the prime minister in August.