Victims in Norway

Criminal Justice System

1. Groups most victimized by crime.

Information on victims of crime has been
gathered as part of general surveys on living
conditions in Norway.
This information is presented in summary form by
the Central Bureau of Statistics in its
publication, Kriminalitet og rettsvesen (2nd ed,
1992) at pages 15-20. All of the data cited below
are derived from this publication.
In surveys on living conditions carried out
in 1983, 1987 and 1991, a representative sample of
the Norwegian population between 16 and 79 years
old were asked whether or not they had been
subjected to some form of violence or threat of
violence during the previous year. Of those asked
in 1991, 5%, or approximately 170,000 persons,
answered in the affirmative. (The survey figures
for 1987 and 1983 were 5% and 4%, respectively.)
Approximately a third of those persons answering
yes had suffered manifest bodily injury as a result
of the violence.
In 1991, approximately 11% of surveyed males
between 16 and 24 years old had been subjected to
violence or the threat of violence. The
equivalent figures for females between 16 and 24
years old, for males over 45 years of age, and for
females over 45 years of age were approximately
9%, 3% and 2%, respectively. The figure for those
living in urban areas was approximately 7%; it was
2% for those living in rural areas.
Approximately half of those persons who had
been subjected to violence or the threat of
violence had been subjected to it several times
during the year. Women, more than men, were
subject to violence in their own home; men, more
than women, were subject to violence while out in
restaurants, bars, cafes, or other public places.
Murder victims are usually males. In 1990,
for example, 35 of the 46 reported murder victims
were men; 3 of the victims were under 15 years
old. In the age groups of 15-20, 21-30 and 31-40,
8, 12 and 12 persons had become murder victims,
respectively. In a third of the cases, the victim
and offender were members of the same family or
living together. In two-thirds of the cases, both
were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In
almost half of the cases, the murder was the
result of an argument.
In 1991, 14% of the population, or
approximately 480,000 persons, reported that they
had possessions stolen or damaged during that
year. Half of these cases concerned theft: 20%,
both theft and damage; 30%, damage only. Of those
persons living in large towns, 21% reported having
had possessions stolen. The corresponding figure
for those living in rural areas was 8%.
There are several weaknesses with these victim
surveys. For example, they do not include persons
under 16 years old or provide detailed information
on the socio-economic status of crime victims. It
is worth noting that in 1992, a special committee
appointed by the Ministry of Justice and Police to
investigate the legal position of crime victims
criticized the paucity of detailed crime victim
data in Norway. The committee recommended, among
other things, that the system whereby statistics
are collated on criminal offenses reported to and
investigated by the police should be extended to
include essential data on the victims of those
offenses.

2. Victims’ assistance agencies.

As of 1990, there were 46 crisis centers
spread throughout Norway offering assistance to
women and children who had been subject to rape or
other physical or psychological abuse. There were
also 41 crisis telephone services for women, along
with several telephone services for men who have
been the victims of incest. Children who are
victims of incest are offered assistance by a
support center in Oslo (Stottesenter mot incest),
which has been operating since 1986. (Sterkere
vern og okt stotte for kriminalitetsofre, 1992:
70).
A national association for victims of
violence (Landsforening for voldsofre og
motarbeiding av vold) was established in 1989,
with the aim of assisting victims and campaigning
for measures to reduce the extent of violence in
Norwegian society. Very few programs are in place
that specialize in providing support for elderly
victims of violence. One such program has been
initiated in the town of Skien and another in
Manglerud, Oslo. (Sterkere vern og okt stotte for
kriminalitetsofre, 1992: 70-71).
Most of the above programs are run on a
private, voluntary basis. Some funding is provided
by the State, such as for the crisis centers for
women.

3. Role of victim in prosecution and sentencing.

In Norwegian law, the crime victim plays a
peripheral role in the prosecution and sentencing
process. It is the State which is accorded the
responsibility of prosecuting and sentencing
criminal offenders. The victim’s role in this
process is limited generally to providing, as a
witness, evidence on the matter in question. It
should be noted that there is presently no system
whereby a “Victim Impact Statement” is made out
and submitted to the court as a supplement to the
pre-sentence report, although the introduction of
such a system has recently been recommended.
(Sterkere vern og okt stotte for
kriminalitetsofre, 1992: 36).
In certain situations, the victim will have
extended rights in the prosecution process, such
as in cases where the victim institutes a private
prosecution or becomes a party to the prosecution.
The victim will then have a right, for instance,
to examine witnesses. The victim will also have a
right to be acquainted with case documents during
the main court hearing. Generally, this right is
not expressly accorded to victims, even though
they do have a right to be acquainted with case
documents during the pre-trial investigation.
(Criminal Procedures Act, Sect. 242,404,402).
Since 1991, it has been possible for the
prosecuting authority to decide that certain
criminal matters may be settled out of court
through negotiations between the offender and
victim, with an extra-judicial body called the
Conflict Board (konfliktr�d) present as an
arbitrator. Several conditions must be fulfilled
before this can occur. The offense must not be so
serious as to incur imprisonment, the offender
must be proved guilty of the alleged offense, and
both the offender and victim must consent to the
matter being settled out of court in the way
described. (Criminal Procedures Act, Sect. 71a).4. Victims’ rights legislation.

There is no victims’ rights legislation as
such. Rather, provisions giving victims certain
rights have been incorporated into more general
laws, such as the Criminal Procedures Act (CPA),
the Injury Compensation Act (Lov om
skadeserstatning 13. juni 1969 nr. 26) and the
Legal Aid Act (Lov om fri rettshjelp 13. juni 1980
nr. 35).
An example of such a provision is Section 456
of the Criminal Procedures Act, which states that
a compensation claim ordered to be paid to a
victim takes priority over a claim by the State
that the offender pay a fine. In addition,
Section 107a provides that in cases involving a
contravention of Sections 192 to 196 of the Penal
Code (sexual offenses), the victim is entitled to
the assistance of a lawyer, who is paid by the
State. The lawyer is permitted to be present
during the main hearing of the case, is given
limited rights to assist the victim when he or she
is questioned in court, and must be given access
to the case documents. In most other cases, it is
the victim who must bear the costs of engaging a
lawyer to assist him or her during the prosecution
process. (Criminal Procedures Act, Sect.
107c,264a).
Women who have been mistreated or abused are
entitled to free legal advice, irrespective of
their assets or income. They are also entitled to
the free assistance of a lawyer during the
prosecution process, although this lawyer does not
have the same rights as those lawyers appointed
pursuant to Section 107a of the Criminal
Procedures Act. Victims of violence are also
allowed free legal advice irrespective of their
assets or income (Ministry of Justice, Circulars
G-38/89, G-62/87, G-101/83).
A victim has the right to demand compensation
for losses suffered as a result of being
physically or mentally injured by an offender. The
type of loss for which compensation can be claimed
is usually economic only, although there are
certain exceptions noted in the Injury
Compensation Act. Compensation can be demanded
from the offender, by mounting a civil legal
claim, for example, or from the State. (Injury
Compensation Act, Sect. 3-2, 3-3, 3-5; State
Regulations of January 23, 1981).

Note: this work was completed in 1993

Resources

See Also

  • Criminal Justice
  • Legal System
  • Criminology
  • Norwegian Criminal Justice System

Further Reading

  • Cole, George F., S. J. Frankowski, and M. G. Gertz, (1987) Major Criminal Justice Systems. Beverly Hills: Sage.
  • David, R. and J. E. Brierley (1968) Major Legal Systems of the World Today. London: Free Press.
  • Fairchild, E. (1993), Comparative criminal justice systems. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • Feeley, Malcolm M. (1973), “Two models of the criminal justice system”. Law and Society Review, 7(3): 407-425.

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