The Jewish community of Oslo et al. v. Norway

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The Jewish community of Oslo et al. v. Norway (Communication No. 30/2003) was a case decided by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2005.


In 2000, a group known as the "Bootboys" organized a march in commemoration of Rudolf Hess, near Oslo. There was an antisemitic speech by the march's leader Terje Sjølie, the Nazi salute was made and "Sieg Heil" shouted.

Some witnesses filed a complaint with the police, and Sjølie was charged with a violation of section 135a of the Norwegian Penal Code (threatening, insulting, or subjecting to hatred, persecution or contempt, any person or group of persons because of their creed, race, color or national or ethnic origin). He was initially acquitted by the Halden City Court, then convicted by the Borgarting Court of Appeal, and finally acquitted again by the Supreme Court in an 11:6 decision on 17 December 2002.

The Supreme Court found that penalizing approval of Nazism would involve prohibiting Nazi organizations, which it considered would go too far and be incompatible with the right to freedom of speech. The majority held that the speech contained derogatory and offensive remarks, but that no actual threats were made, nor any instructions to carry out any particular actions.

CERD proceedings and opinion[edit]

On 17 June 2003, representatives of the Jewish community and Norwegian Antiracist Centre filed a communication before CERD. On 9 March 2005, the Committee declared the communication admissible. On 15 August 2005, it delivered the decision. The Committee reaffirmed that the prohibition of all ideas based upon racial superiority or hatred is compatible with the right to freedom of opinion and expression and concluded that the statements of Mr. Sjolie [sic], given that they were of exceptionally/manifestly offensive character, are not protected by the due regard clause, and that accordingly his acquittal by the Supreme Court of Norway gave rise to a violation of article 4, and consequently article 6, of the Convention (Para 10.5).

Significant conclusions include also that the deference to Hitler and his principles and 'footsteps' must in the Committee's view be taken as incitement at least to racial discrimination, if not to violence (Para 10.4).

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