OSLO – Norway is still violating the human rights of mass killer Anders Behring Breivik despite some easing of his near-isolation in jail since he massacred 77 people in 2011, his lawyer told a court on Wednesday at the end of a case about his conditions.
In the Jan. 10-18 case, the Norwegian state is appealing against a lower court ruling in 2015 that jail conditions for neo-Nazi Breivik, 37, breach a ban on “inhuman and degrading treatment” under the European Convention on Human Rights.
“It’s too strict,” Breivik’s lawyer Oeystein Storrvik told the high-security court, saying Breivik had no contact with other inmates even though he has spent more time with guards and priests in recent years.
Since late 2016, Storrvik meets Breivik separated by bars, a slight improvement from a glass wall previously in place, he said. Breivik’s only family visitor was his mother, who gave him a hug before she died of cancer in 2013.
Breivik says he has no one with whom to build a friendship in a psychologically damaging isolation.
The Norwegian state says extreme restrictions are needed after Breivik gunned down 69 people, many of them teenagers, at a youth camp of the then ruling Labour Party on July 22, 2011, after detonating a bomb in central Oslo that killed eight.
It says it is too dangerous to allow Breivik contact with other prisoners – he might attack them or they might try to kill him – and he is compensated with a three-room cell with a mini-gym, television and a playstation.
On Tuesday, arguing for the state, Attorney General Fredrik Sejersted said Norway faced a “liberal paradox” on how to uphold the rights of extremists who want to overthrow the system.
“But we don’t have to be too kind and naive,” he said.
The three-judge panel said it was likely to give its ruling in the second half of February. It may eventually end up in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
In previous cases, the European court found that Turkey violated the human rights of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan during some of his detention alone on a remote island after his conviction on treason charges in 1999.
In 2006, the court dismissed complaints by guerrilla leader Carlos the Jackal, serving a life sentence in France, about his isolation from other prisoners. It noted he had had many visits from lawyers and family members.