Two weeks ago, Norwegian police raided the head office of the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD), charging the group’s founder Loai Deeb with laundering more than 100m Norwegian kroner ($13m).
Since then Deeb has hit back, with GNRD posting videos from the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on its website, in which seemingly independent politicians and activists criticise Norway.
”Such actions against a human rights organisation can be expected in a country with a totalitarian regime, but not in a country with a strong democracy,” a speaker from the Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, argued in the hearing.
“Such actions of Norway towards a human rights organization and human rights defender are to be condemned,” Professor Jean-François Fechino, from the Geneva-based International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights (IIPJHR) said in another address.
Both the Maarij Foundation and IIPJHR have worked closely with GNRD in the past, with IIPJHR
sharing the same Geneva offices.
Deeb told Norway’s state broadcaster NRK that the Norwegian Police broken international law with their raid.
“The Norwegian police has behaved irresponsibly, and their actions cannot be excused,” he said. “What they have done is in violation of international law, something Norway brags about in international forums and in the UN.”
Norwegian authorities believe that the $13m, received from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), represented the proceeds of crime.
“The money has come from abroad, aside from that we have no further comment,” Håvard Kampen of The Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime told broadcaster NRK.
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Earlier this week sent GNRD out a press release in English, in which it argued that Norway had come to international attention for human rights violations, singling out the treatment of minority children by the country’s child welfare services.
Frode Overland Andersen, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry to told Norway’s Dagens Næringsliv newspaper dismissed GNRD’s accusations.
”We have been made aware of allegations put forward by GNRD. They lack any basis in reality and we think they are quite puzzling,” he said.