Emilie Mehl announces new law to prevent Norway being ‘free haven’ for criminals

Emilie Mehl announces new law to prevent Norway being 'free haven' for criminals
Emilie Mehl announces new law to prevent Norway being 'free haven' for criminals. Credit: regjeringen.no.

Minister of Justice and Emergency Preparedness Emilie Enger Mehl has put in place a new law to prevent Norway from becoming a “free haven” for criminals.

The Norwegian politician was handed the Extradition and Arrest Warrant Committee’s report and proposal for a new law on extradition and handover to and from Norway today, Friday, October 28.

“I would like to thank the committee for the effort they have put into this important work, which helps to prevent Norway from becoming a free haven for people who have committed serious crimes,” she said.

“I will now familiarise myself thoroughly with the investigation.”

The extradition and arrest warrant committee was appointed in November 2020 to review the current regulations on extradition and surrender of offenders as well as prepare proposals for new provisions.

The committee considered whether the current regulations for extradition and handover should be brought together into one common law.

It has also looked, among other things, at how considerations for quick and efficient case processing and considerations for legal certainty and human rights can be taken care of.

The proposed law – entitled the Extradition and Arrest Warrant Act – will replace the rules on extradition in the Extradition Act and on handover in the Arrest Warrant Act, and in many respects continues current law. The law will apply to all states and will implement Norway’s international obligations under the European Extradition Convention.

The committee’s objective has been to design a draft law that is as user-friendly, comprehensible, and informative as possible.

The need for an accessible and clear law is particularly due to the fact that a long time can often elapse between each time the individual employee of the prosecution or the court, or the individual defence counsel, deals with extradition or handover cases.

Extradition and surrender of offenders are currently regulated in the Extradition Act from 1975 and the Arrest Warrant Act from 2012.

According to the act, the Norwegian authorities can refuse to extradite offenders, unless Norway is obliged under international law to extradite to the state requesting extradition.

The Arrest Warrant Act, which provides rules on simplified handover of offenders between Norway and states in the EU and the Nordics, in turn, entails a mutual obligation to apprehend and hand over wanted persons, except when there is a statutory basis for refusal.

The rules on handover between the Nordic states came into force in 2012, while the rules that apply between Norway and states in the EU came into force in November 2019.

Developments in recent decades have led to a need to review the extradition and arrest warrant regulations, in particular, to ensure that they are in accordance with our international obligations.

Cross-border crime has increased, and the rules on the handover of offenders in the EU and the Nordics are in themselves a significant development.

The Norwegian regulations “must facilitate effective international cooperation that helps to prevent wanted persons from evading prosecution or imposed punishment”.

The committee has reviewed the domestic law and international law rules on extradition and handover. In this connection, the committee has, among other things, account taken of Norwegian and international legal practice, particularly from the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice.

Consideration has also been given to regulations in several other states. In the light of this review, the committee has drawn up a draft for a comprehensive law on the extradition and handing over of offenders to and from Norway.

In addition, international law can be difficult to access and difficult to apply. The law must provide predictability and safeguard the legal security and human rights of wanted persons. This has resulted in a relatively extensive draft with a high level of detail.

Finally must ensure that Norway complies with its international obligations. The framework of international law has therefore set clear limitations for the committee’s assessments and proposals. The committee has emphasized a loyal implementation of these.