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NORWAY 2020

The government suspended its invasive COVID-19 tracing mobile application which risked the right to privacy. Violence against women remained a serious concern. A consultation took place on a draft law on human rights in business and supply chains.

Mass surveillance

In April, the government rolled out the mobile application Smittestopp (“infection stop”) to track possible COVID-19 infections. The contact tracing app put the right to privacy and security of hundreds of thousands of people at risk. After heavy criticism, the app was suspended and all collected data deleted in June.1

Discrimination

Sex-workers’ rights

Public health restrictions introduced on 12 March to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus curtailed people’s freedom of movement and assembly, including that of sex workers (80% of whom are women). Despite being temporarily prohibited from selling sex from March until 27 April, sex workers were excluded from, and largely unable to access, state-funded emergency financial aid packages. This meant some may have been compelled to continue to sell sex despite the risks.

Violence against women and girls

The number of rape cases reported to the police decreased by 10% between 2018 and 2019 and continued to decrease in 2020. It was not clear whether the decrease was caused by a reduction in the incidents of rape, or by a reduced willingness to report rape.

In June, the Director of Public Prosecutions published a report on the quality of police investigations in rape cases. The report noted some progress but highlighted that in half of the reported rape cases the lack of a timely and efficient investigation was a problem.

International justice

In May, the Ministry of Justice concluded that a Rwandan national accused of complicity in the 1994 Rwandan genocide would not be extradited. The accused spent four years in custody as the Ministry of Justice had previously concluded he could be extradited to Rwanda, but further investigation concluded two prosecution witnesses were not sufficiently credible.

Corporate accountability

A public consultation was held on a draft law on human rights in business operations and supply chains. The government was expected to present a proposal for a human rights due diligence law to Parliament before the end of June 2021.

In April, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) noted the law but expressed concern, among other things, about inadequate access to remedies by non-nationals whose rights had allegedly been violated by Norwegian companies abroad.


  1. Bahrain, Kuwait and Norway contact tracing apps among most dangerous for privacy (News story, 16 June)