4 stories behind our results in 2016

Providing police with alternatives to torture and supporting China's first law against domestic violence: Read the stories behind our work for human rights in 2016. 

2016 has been a productive year for the International Department at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights: 

1. Providing police with alternatives to torture 

In the investigation room after 22 July Massacre: NCHR researcher Asbjørn Rachlew shares experiences with Nguyen Xuan Yem, rector of Vietnam Police Academy, in the room where mass murderer and investigators sat (photo: Vietnam Police Academy)

How can national police forces replace torture and other confession-oriented interrogation methods with techniques compliant with human rights?

In 2016 the NCHR became involved in an initiative to develop international standards on police interrogation methods that comply with human rights, initiated by recent UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez. The goal is to provide police with research-based methods where human rights, effective investigation and mutual trust between the police and the population are all combined. 

For several years, the NCHR has conducted trainings for police forces in Vietnam and Indonesia. Police forces are introduced to knowledge-based investigative methods complying with human rights. Some of the lessons included in the trainings derive from the Norwegian Police’s response to the massacre of 22nd July 2011 where the police responded with established human rights compliant methods. This demonstrates that human rights and investigation can be combined, even in situations where national security is threatened.

Read more about the UN Special Rapporteur's initiative for universal standards for police investigations. The report of the UN Special Rapporteur makes reference to Norwegian research on investigative methods. 

2. Support to China's first law against domestic violence 

Addressing taboos through soap opera: The famous Chinese actor Wang Xuebing starred in the soap opera where the taboo on violence against women was lifted (photo: ADVN).

Many Chinese women are affected by violence from their partner and in the family. In March 2016 China’s first law against domestic violence took effect, after being adopted by the National People’s Congress.

The Chinese organisation Anti-Domestic Violence Network (ADVN), supported by the NCHR for over a decade, was a strong contributor to the new legislation. ADVN was the first Chinese organisation to address the taboo of domestic violence. Despite targeted efforts, getting the law enacted has entailed a push by academics and activists that has spanned over a decade. 

The Chinese organisation was both traditional and innovative when addressing domestic violence. While retaining the close links to China’s official women’s organisation, the All China Women’s Federation (ACWF), national information campaigns and linking up to TV and soap operas also played an important role. These TV campaigns, in conjunction with soap operas had a broad reach across China.

3. Launch of new Oslo Principles on Freedom of Religion or Belief

Addressing challenges to freedom of religion: Lena Larsen, director of the Oslo Coalition, discusses the Oslo Principles with Mark Lattimer, director of Minority Rights Group, and Nazila Ghanea, researcher at Oxford University (photo: T.M.F. Vestheim)

The right to freedom or religion or belief is increasingly becoming a political tool. So how can we deal with this challenge? 

Around 60 experts and practitioners in the field of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) attended the conference 'Politicization of Freedom of Religion or Belief – For Better and Worse' in Oslo in October.

Reviewing recent developments in the field, and drawing on nearly two decades of experience since the Oslo Declaration (1998), the conference endorsed a new set on principles: The Oslo Principles on the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief. All actors, regardless of their diverse beliefs and agendas, should be encouraged to seek inclusive approaches to promote FoRB as a universal right in line with international standards. 

The aim of the conference was to discuss how both the challenges and possibilities arising from the politicization of FoRB can be handled in order to strengthen the international legal framework on human rights. Read more about the conference here.

Watch the opening statement by UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. 

4. Strengthening local democracy in Indonesia

Trainings on local democracy: Sri Palupi, member of the civil society advisory team for the Village Law, played a key role in developing the trainings to strengthen local democracy at village level (photo: A. Tømte). 

Indonesia’s new Village Law has been hailed as a game-changer for rural areas and people as around half of Indonesia’s population, and a majority of the country’s poor, live in Indonesia's more than 74.000 villages.  

In cooperation with our partners Ecosoc Institute and Lakpesdam NU, NCHR has developed a handbook to strengthen local democracy at village level and facilitate a human rights-based implementation of the law. The handbook will be used as reference material for those providing training to the 30.000 'Village Facilitators', who have the task of guiding on the implementation of the law at village level. 

This training manual also includes an introduction written by the new minister for villages and underdeveloped regions. Effect of training may be multiplied after the minister's endorsement. Read more about the initiative here.

Tags: Human Rights, NCHR, International department, Equality and Non-Discrimination, Equality NCHR, Domestic Violence, Investigative Interviewing, Indonesia, China, FORB By Tone Magni F. Vestheim
Published Dec. 31, 2016 4:02 PM - Last modified Dec. 3, 2018 11:39 AM