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Norway and Article 6
A Triangle of Partnership and Solidarity

'Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.'

It was difficult to find any information with direct connection to this Article. It can involve so many different issues. You might think that this will be to my advantage, and normally this would perhaps have been the case, but one of my biggest problems while working with this article was that when I addressed different organisations and unions, they did neither associate with any concrete paragraph in the constitutional law nor any violations of this declaration in Norway.

I have reached a few points, which directly or indirectly might be attached to article number 6. I have also tried giving examples of both negative and the positive aspects of the Norwegian system of law.

Equality before the law
Equality before the law is an important and debated topic, both on national and international levels. Norwegians sometimes too easily assert themselves that equality before the law is a matter of course in Norway. In reality the court of justice does not always judge unbiased. By 'unbiased', I mean that poor and rich people shall be judged equally for equal crimes, and not according to their social status. People with a low salary should have a similar chance to get a fair trial as wealthy people.

Unfortunately I do not have any concrete cases to underline what I am trying to say, but I can pretty surely claim that people from lower social classes are punished harder than more wealthy people. When a judge shall settle the sentence of a crime, he or she might consider what chances the judged has the "recover". Wealthy people are much more privileged in these cases than poor people. In such cases it might seem that the system of law enables a certain judicial inequality.

People with little money and education are the weaker part in civil cases, not only because the court of law can be biased, but also because it costs money to hire a lawyer. Trade unionists can perhaps get support in some cases, but people often have to pay for the attorney themselves. In Norway we have a system where the accused shall get a lawyer without any charge, but unfortunately this system does scarcely satisfy the need, because the limit of income to be able to receive this is very low. Because of this you can say that many people by economic reasons does not get their rights.

Youths' right to be recognised (as an object before the law):
Another way to look at this article is to ask yourself: "Is everyone considered as a complete person before the court?". I would then like to mention youths' right to be recognised as independent individuals. By studying 'the law of personal defence' ('Vergemålsloven'), especially Chapter 4, we see that minors do not have the same rights as people who are more than 18 years old. Young people do up to a point have the right to control their own life and economy, but a guardian is always the superior. When I talk about minors, I do not only mean youths, but also people who in different ways have showed that they cannot be held responsible for their actions.

According to 'the law of personal defence' ('Vergemålsloven') the superior always acts for the best of the youth, because young people are not mature enough to take responsibility for their actions. The law is most likely intended to serve as a support for young people, but if Article # 6 in the Declaration of Human Rights is literally concidered, this policy can be seen as a violation. Everyone one will include both poor and rich, young and old. Whether changing the law would give a better society is of course a matter of discussion, which I shall not discuss in this assignment.

What about the people beyond the protection of law?
Article 6 is first and foremost about the responsibility of the states to establish a system of law which works in a way that leaves nobody outside the judicial system. This may represent a problem. One of the cases of topical interest is perhaps the situation of the refugees. Many refugees come to new countries without papers and other documents to prove their identity, date of birth etc. These persons might at the worst risk not being legally approved as persons. If this is the case, they may not benefit from the protection of the law. We can therefore say that Article # 6 is one of the foundation stones among the judical articles, because it makes sure that every individual actually gets the opportunity to receive a fair treatment in court.

If a refugee to Norway have no papers to document his/her name, date of birth (some societies do not have a tradition of calendars and dates of birth), then a date will be allotted and the stated name will be approved. This is not a simple process, but it does exist. If this had not been the case, then it would have been a violation to the article.

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