Norwegian Justice


A lot of people are very critical of Norway’s maximum sentence being only 21 years in the face of the mass murders this past Friday. Some are even going so far as to hope that they will raise the sentence limit and apply the new limit to the crime.

 

To the first part of that, within the bounds of international laws and treaties to which it is party, Norway is free to craft its justice system however it wishes. It doesn’t have to fit your idea of justice, or mine, or Burundi’s, or whatever. Furthermore Norway has a very low crime rate, so it is difficult to level much legitimate criticism at it as being dysfunctional in any systematic way.

 

The idea that Norway should alter itsjustice system after the fact and applying it this crime is particularly odious. Regardless of whether you think this sort of emotional knee-jerk change is justified, it is not going to happen. Known as an ex post facto law, they are forbidden by the Norwegian constitution (as well as many other countries’, including the United States’ and Brazil’s, even Iran’s).

 

It is not like Norway is some banana republic rife with crime and corruption. If it were, I would add my voice right along side these critics.

 

I am not going to that one doesn’t rewire ones justice system based on one extraordinary event, Norway may decide that is something they wish to do. I will say that doing it in the heat of the moment is nearly always a bad idea. This is the same sort of emotional spasm that led to the US congress passing, without barely a debate, the tome of civil rights pummeling laws known as the Patriot Act.

 

According to some ideals, 21 years is not enough, but as this is a Norwegian crime, committed in Norway, by a native of that country. It is their ideals that matter here and now.



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