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Europe’s Torture Committee alerts the Norwegian prisons

The Council of Europe’s Torture Monitoring Committee was on unannounced inspection in Norway in June. The committee, after the nine days of inspection, is now criticizing several conditions in the Norwegian prisons. 

The inspection is the follow-up of the inspection of 2011. VG has gained access to some of the observations that will be part of a report to be published in November.

The committee has criticized several conditions.

  • In particular, the committee is seriously concerned about the practice of several prisons where suicidal and self-harmful detainees are placed in cells without any necessary medical supervision. It is also critical of the fact that inmates are routinely stripped.
  • The inmates in isolation are entitled to a routine visit by a healthcare professional but nothing as such has been noted in any of the visited prisons, according to the report.
  • In 2011’s inspection, it was noted that the committee is deeply worried that no proper medical checkup of inmates is made. In addition, there is no systematic detection, documentation and reporting of damage.

The Norwegian authorities are encouraged to followup the recommendation made in 2011.

Taking the criticism seriously

Justice Minister Tor Mikkel Wara writes in a comment via his communications department that the government will reduce the use of isolation in prison, and strengthen the treatment offer in mental health care in the correctional care.

“It’s a job we’re working with with the Ministry of Health and Care,” he says.

Wara adds that the ministry reviews the comments of the committee and other bodies that have submitted criticism and are considering assessing possible measures.

“The government wants to prevent and prevent the use of long-term isolation for serious mentally ill inmates. Therefore, we propose in the state budget for 2019 to allocate money to establish a new department for this group of inmates, where the specialist health service will also be present. This will be enormous boost for this category of inmates, who often fall into the gray zone between prisons and health care.

There are a group of people consisting of doctors, lawyers and representatives of the committee who have supervised. The inspections occurred at police stations, in prisons, in nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals and immigration interns.

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