'Norway needs separate jails for foreigners'

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File image of a jail cell at Ila prison in Bærum (Photo: Berit Roald/Scanpix).
08:39 CEST+02:00
Norway’s Conservative Party (Høyre) has called for the construction of rudimentary new jails for foreign criminals.

If the Conservatives win next autumn's election, foreign prisoners can still expect to be given food and shelter, but very little else, newspaper Aftenposten reports.

”We don’t need to expend resources on the rehabilitation of convicted criminals who will not be reintegrated into Norwegian society, but will be deported from the country,” deputy party leader Bent Høie told the paper.

”Nor do we need to offer them education or any other assistance to prepare them for a life in Norway,” said Høie, the chief architect of the Conservatives’ draft parliamentary policy programme for the next four years.

The Conservatives say the new jails will enable the country's penal authorities to prevent Norwegian inmates from mixing with the international crime syndicates to which many foreign lawbreakers belong.

Explaining why the Conservatives are adopting the plan, Høie said the party wanted to "bring to an end a situation in which certain foreign criminals view punishment in a Norwegian prison as a holiday."

The proposal mirrors an idea previously put forward by the right-wing populist Progress Party, whose leader Siv Jensen welcomed the move from her fellow opposition party.  

Speaking to newspaper Dagbladet, she too used the holiday analogy while arguing that Norway needs to do much more to keep foreign criminals at bay.  

"We'll get a stronger preventive effect if we create a [prison] regime with stronger deterrents," said Jensen.

The Progress Party leader said her party also intended to recommend that the Norwegian authorities pay for prison berths in the home countries of convicted criminals in order to facilitate their repatriation.

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The Labour Party's justice policy spokesman, Jan Bøhler, was unimpressed by the proposals, arguing that the parties’ description of Norwegian prisons as holiday camps was far divorced from reality.

"In my view, it's irresponsible on the part of centrally placed politicians to present this in such a way," he told Dagbladet.

"Jensen's contribution gives quite a skewed representation of the reality, which in turn lures criminals into believing that's actually how things are in Norway," said Bøhler.

In a draft party programme brimming with tougher justice policy plans, the Conservatives are also calling for stricter punishments for terrorist offences and crimes against humanity, as well as the implementation of tougher parole conditions for serious crimes.

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