Nordisk Tidsskrift for Menneskerettigheter Vol. 22 Nr. 2:2004:

English abstracts

Margret Heinreksdottir: Human Rights in Iceland

This article outlines the extensive progress in recent years in the field of human rights in the Icelandic society due to the influence of international human rights law. All the main conventions have been ratified and the ECHR incorporated into national law. The judicial system has been totally renewed, the human rights section of the Constitution amended and extensive legislation enacted to guarantee various rights. The institutions of a parliamentary Ombudsman and an Ombudsman for Children have been established. NGOs have been increasingly active in their respective fields. Yet, problems remain abundant. Rights as well as implementations are disputed. There is controversy between the ideas of free market economy and social welfare, and increased individualism undermines tendencies and attempts to introduce measures for furthering de facto gender equality and non-discrimination. Scientific progress and measures against terrorism and crime lead to invasion of personal privacy. There is dire need for increased education and furthering of understanding of human rights as well as vigilance against violations of human rights in the Icelandic society.

Keywords: Iceland; human rights; implementation.

Juhani Kortteinen and Timo Makkonen: Some Developments in the Human Rights Situation in Finland During 2003

Even a country like Finland, which was almost declared World Human Rights Champion by the UN ICCPR Committee in connection with the consideration of its periodic report to the Committee in 1998, is finding it hard to meet the requirements set forth in international human rights conventions. Some of the recent obstacles are explained here, along with some of the more encouraging developments. There is evidence of a tendency to delimit the rights of animal and nature protection activists in a manner that may restrict their civil and political rights more than is necessary in a democratic society. The police authorities have been entrusted with new and more extensive powers, but is the supervision of the use of these powers equal to the task? There appears to be some difficulty finding places that comply with international standards to hold persons under deprivation of liberty. Does the accelerated asylum procedure guarantee the right to asylum as intended by the Geneva Convention? Is non-discrimination guaranteed equally to everyone? Have the EU non-discrimination directives been sufficiently transposed into Finnish legislation? Freedom of expression will be protected by new legislation, but it will not be unproblematic. Social rights are in the process of turning into adjudicable subjective rights.

Keywords: Limitation of rights, prisons, telephone tapping, surveillance, asylum, discrimination, equality, freedom of expression, social rights.

Jonas Grimheden, Carin Laurin og Katarina Månsson (RED):Human Rights and Sweden – A Critical Review

Sweden is commonly seen as one of the leading countries in terms of human rights practice. Sweden also encourages other countries to observe human rights by means of development cooperation and political dialogue. The aim of this article is to paint a more balanced picture of human rights compliance in Sweden from the viewpoint of various human rights issues. The approach to human rights as developed over the years in Sweden is by way of introduction exemplified with the issue of eugenics. As to the contemporary situation, perspectives are provided on, inter alia, constitutional issues, reservations to human rights treaties, how Sweden has fared in the global and regional human rights mechanisms, the Sami people, and in relation to a case concerning asylum-seekers and the threat of terrorism.

Keywords: Human rights, Sweden, constitution, eugenics, European Court of Human Rights, reservations, Sami people, asylum-seekers, terrorism, discrimination.

Kim U. Kjær, Rikke Frank Jørgensen, Peter Vedel kessing, Hans-Otto Sano og Peter Scharff Smith: Menneskeretssituationen i Danmark 1999-2003

This article is based on the yearly Status Report on the Human Rights Situation in Denmark published by the Institute of Human Rights in Copenhagen. It assesses the human rights situation on the basis of analyses of changes and current status in three focus areas: rights of asylum, discrimination and equal treatment, and anti-terror legislation. It concludes that deterioration in the human rights situation has occurred concerning the protection of privacy; the rule of law; equal treatment generally; and the protection of minorities. Improvements in the human rights situation are evident in the growing application of human rights instruments in Danish law; strengthened legislation in respect of individual groups with special needs such as women and children; and in the recent establishment of a complaints mechanism ensuring equal treatment of ethnic minorities. Four possible reasons for the deterioration in the human rights situation are offered. 1) That Denmark is changing from a culturally homogeneous society to a multi-cultural one; 2) the crisis of the welfare state; and 3) a mounting trend in political culture towards zero tolerance and the expansion of the surveillance society.

Keywords: Human rights, Denmark, asylum legislation , discrimination and equal treatment, vulnerable groups, anti-terror legislation; crisis of the welfare state, political rhetoric, surveillance society.

Marius Emberland: International human rights supervisors' views on the human rights situation in Norway

This article looks at the human rights situation in Norway from the viewpoint of international human rights supervisory bodies. The analysis is based on materials on Norway in the UN human rights committees, and various supervisory mechanisms within the Council of Europe framework, including the European Court of Human Rights. Certain themes emerge that suggest difficulties in Norway’s record of human rights observation. Above all, however, the material demonstrates a need for more information in Norway in general, and the legal community in particular, on opportunities and constraints in international human rights law.

Keywords: Norway; human rights; supervisory mechanisms; United Nations; Council of Europe.