Knut Storberget

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Knut Storberget
Justisminister Knut Storberget.jpg
Minister of Justice
In office
October 17, 2005 – November 11, 2011
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg
Preceded by Odd Einar Dørum
Succeeded by Grete Faremo
Member of the Norwegian Parliament
for Hedmark
In office
2001 – 2013
Personal details
Born (1964-10-06) October 6, 1964 (age 49)
Elverum, Norway
Nationality Norwegian
Political party Norwegian Labour Party
Alma mater University of Oslo
Occupation Elected MP in the Storting 2001 -
Profession Barrister

Knut Storberget (born 6 October 1964 in Elverum) is a Norwegian lawyer and politician for the Norwegian Labour Party. He became the Minister of Justice and the Police serving in the second cabinet Stoltenberg from 2005. Storberget resigned as minister on November 11, 2011.

Early life and education[edit]

Storberget was born in the small town of Elverum, Hedmark, on October 6, 1964. The son of forester Lars Storberget (1921–1992) and nurse Marit Drangsholt-Salvesen (1923–1992). After completing high school, he attended the University of Oslo, graduating first in 1985, receiving a degree in Political science, he later received a law degree after completing law school at the same university in 1990.[1]

Political career[edit]

From 1992 to 2002 he worked as an attorney-at-law, participating in several high-profile cases, including at the supreme court. He was namely a defense attorney. On the local level he was a member of Elverum municipal council for the Labour party from 1991 to 1999.

He was first elected to the Norwegian Parliament from Hedmark in 2001, and has been re-elected on two occasions. He had previously served as a deputy representative during the terms 1993–1997 and 1997–2001. In October 2005 he was appointed Minister of Justice and the Police in the second cabinet Stoltenberg. His seat in parliament was taken by Thomas Breen between 2005 and 2009, and by Thor Lillehovde between 2009 and 2011.

After his resignation as minister, Storberget signaled his intention to run for reelection as member of parliament for his native Hedmark county.[2] It had been suggested that his chance for party nomination is in jeopardy due to his support for the controversial Temporary and Agency Workers Directive. The directive is vehemently opposed by the labor unions which have significant influence over the nomination of Labour party candidates.[3] On December 1, 2012 he was however renominated with acclamation and got the top spot on Hedmark Labour Partys´s ballot for the Norwegian parliamentary election, 2013.[4]

Minister of Justice and the Police[edit]

A long-time proponent of reforming the Norwegian policy towards narcotics and drug use, he declared in June 2010 that he no longer wants to punish drug use altogether. Using Portugal as an example of the positive effects of decriminalization of narcotics.[5]

Storberget is also a key supporter of criminal rehabilitation, having built Norway's most modern prison in Halden in 2009. The prison facility included tiled bathrooms and flat-screen TV-sets in each cell. The project received criticism for being a "luxury hotel" for criminals.[6] Storberget rebuked the critics by declaring the prison "a beacon of light" and that Norway does not put prisoners "into cold dungeons".[7]

He also declared to have eradicated the "incarceration queue" of convicts who is waiting to serve time in prison due to prisons being full. He attributes this to reforms making the judicial system more efficient, as well as the construction of more prisons.[8] However the Opposition claimed it is mainly caused by more early releases of convicts and thus more free cells in prison. A year later, the queue was reported to have again doubled.[9]

Controversies[edit]

During Storberget's six years as cabinet minister, numerous controversies has erupted. Late political scholar Hanne Marthe Narud attributed the disproportional number of controversies to Storbergets poor planning skills.[citation needed]

The Hijab affair[edit]

In February 2009 the National Police Directorate recommended to Storberget, who was then Minister of Justice and the Police, that the religious garment known as Hijab should be allowed used as a part of the standard police uniform. A press release from Storberget later confirmed that the new rules would be applied. The decision caused a storm of criticism and brought fierce reactions from the National Police Unions, the opposition Conservative party, Progress party, Centre party and members of the government coalition.[10]

In the immediate aftermath, the press release was suddenly removed from the Justice department's website, and Storberget denied having taken a decision on the matter.[11] Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg admitted to the Storting that the issue was not "explored" sufficient enough. The issue was canceled altogether by Storberget on February 20.[12]

During a press conference regarding the matter, journalists challenged Storberget as to whether he himself had made the decisions on the issue.[13] Facing extreme pressure to resign, he refused to comment on who was responsible and how it could have happened, uttering the word "prosess" (lit: Process) almost forty times during the thirty minute session.[14] Days later he was briefly hospitalized after experiencing a "Medical episode".[15] Analysts have noted that as Storberget was on vacation at the time, he probably did not know about the proposal or the decision to approve it, which was authored by his state secretaries Astri Aas-Hansen and Hadia Tajik.[16] However the allegations against Aas-Hansen and Tajik have never been confirmed, and other newspapers have reported that the Minister of Justice himself may have authored the decision, leaving the two with the blame when the storm came.[17] [18]

Allegations of coercion[edit]

A lawyer for victims of the Utøya massacre, Mette Yvonne Larsen, was telephoned by Storberget on August 19, 2011, and allegedly the minister asked her to reduce her criticism (after she publicly criticized some of actions by police during and after the massacre, and after having asked, on behalf of her clients, why police did not arrive earlier to the scene of the massacre, and asked why there was no helicopter [belonging to the Government] on standby).[19] Storberget said that he could not remember (having called the lawyer and asking her to soften her criticism (dempe kritikken).[19]

Resignation[edit]

Facing mounting pressure in the aftermath of the 2011 Norway attacks over the state of the police and security, Storberget announced his resignation. He declared that six years as justice minister was sufficient and that he wished to focus his attention on remaining in parliament and his family. He was replaced by defense minister Grete Faremo[20]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Storberget, Knut: Miscellaneous articles
  • Storberget, Knut: Legal control of alcohol policy decisions, Oslo 1993
  • Storberget, Knut: Legal and alcohol policy, Oslo 1995
  • Storberget, Knut: "The bear sleeps", Aschehoug Oslo 2007

References[edit]

  1. ^ Barstad, Lars Henie. "Storberget, Knut (1964-)". Representantene (in Norwegian). Stortinget.no. Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
  2. ^ Stiegler, Ingvild Teige (02.08.2012). "Storberget vil fortsette på Stortinget". Tv2.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  3. ^ Løset, Kjetil (2012-08-23). "Ap-topper kan bli vraket". Tv2.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  4. ^ Nyheter/Nyheter/tabid/72/Default.aspx?articleView=true&ModuleId=188425 Storberget valgt med akklamasjon Hamar Arbeiderblad, December 1, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2012
  5. ^ Sandvig, Jenny (August 2012). "Vil ikke lenger straffe narkotikabruk". Aftenposten.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
  6. ^ Bjergli, Janne (August 2012). "Her er det nye "luksusfengselet"". Nettavisen.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
  7. ^ Johansen, John (01.03.2010). "– Halden fengsel er et fyrtårn". Fredrikstad Blad (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
  8. ^ Waagbø, Arild (12.08.2009). "Knut Storberget: Soningskøen er borte!". Nettavisen.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
  9. ^ Andersen, Ingunn (2010-09-09). "Soningskøen skyter i været". Vg.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
  10. ^ Sæbø, Sun Heidi (10.02.2009). "- Vitner om dårlig politisk gangsyn og teft". Dagbladet.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
  11. ^ Thorenfeldt, Gunnar (10.02.2009). "SV maner til kamp for politi-hijab". Dagbladet.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
  12. ^ Sørheim, Arna (2009-02-20). "Trekker Hijab-forslaget". Dagbladet.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
  13. ^ Giæver, Ole (2009-02-20). "Storberget: Prosess, Prosess, Prosess". Abcnyheter.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
  14. ^ Eisenträger, Stian (2009-02-20). "Nektet å snakke om Hijab-prosessen". Vg.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
  15. ^ Hammerstad, Kathrine (2009-02-26). "Storberget innlagt etter illebefinnende". Vg.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
  16. ^ Magnus, Anders (2009-02-18). "Storberget visste ikke om Hijab-vedtak". Nrk.no (in Norwgian). Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
  17. ^ Dagbladet.no (in Norwegian). 4 March 2009 http://www.dagbladet.no/2009/03/04/nyheter/innenriks/politikk/hijab/knut_storberget/5136863/ |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  18. ^ Nytid.no (in Norwegian). 6 March 2009 http://www.nytid.no/nyheter/artikler/20090306/blank/ |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  19. ^ a b Storberget ba Utøya-advokat roe seg Dagbladet.no
  20. ^ Staveland, Lars (2011-11-11). "Knut Storberget går av". Aftenposten.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
Odd Einar Dørum
Minister of Justice and the Police
2005–2011
Succeeded by
Grete Faremo