Families separated by Norway’s strict Covid-19 border rules to sue the government 

Families separated by Norway's strict Covid-19 border rules to sue the government 
A mother and daughter hug after being reunited at an airport arrivals. Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP
A group of people who have been separated from their loved ones due to Norway's tough Covid-19 border restrictions is suing the government for the violation of the right to privacy and family life. 

Six members of the group Oss med familie eller kjæreste i utlandet under covid-19 (Us with family and partners abroad during Covid-19) have submitted a summons to Oslo District Court to sue the state for human rights violations. 

The group says that the human right to family life has been violated by the Norwegian government’s strict entry ban on January 29th that effectively closed the country to non-residents and citizens. The right to family life is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the Norwegian constitution.

“This is a matter of principle. The government has completely failed in its duty to protect the minority. Family life or a relationship across national borders requires predictability and the ability to plan. This has been impossible under the current government,” the group’s spokesperson Richard Flaaten said in a statement. 

In recent months Norway has slowly started reopening its borders. However, most people outside the European Economic Area or EEA (EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) are still not permitted to enter, leaving many separated from their loved ones. Currently, only a very small group of people outside of residents and citizens can travel to Norway from outside the EEA. 

Family members and unmarried partners will not be able to travel to Norway until September 12th at the earliest, and this only includes close family such as children, parents and grandparents.

The group said this had a massive impact on those unable to see their family or partners for the past seven months. 

“The consequences are serious and include having to live in despair, having to live with uncertainty about when they will be able to see loved ones again, people are suffering from depression, anxiety and are unable to sleep without medication,” Flaaten said. 

The group said it felt it had been left with no choice but to take legal action after the government refused to engage in dialogue with them. 

“We are deeply disappointed with the government’s handling of this. We have tried to enter into a dialogue with them, but the government has been totally reluctant to meet us to try and find a solution, something that has been achieved in the other Nordic countries,” Flaaten said. 

The legal action to sue the government is funded by an earlier fundraiser, which attracted around 2,000 donations. Law firm Andersen & Bache-Wiig will represent the group if the lawsuit gets the green light to go ahead. 

READ MORE: ‘It is impacting people’s mental health’: Campaign seeks to sue Norwegian government over Covid-19 border rules

The summons is currently awaiting approval from the courts. If approved, then the group will be able to formally sue the state. 

The group said it is confident Oslo District Court will give the case the go-ahead. 

“We haven’t received an answer yet but have liaised with several law experts who say that this should be a fundamentally important case. I doubt that it will be rejected by the district court,” Flaaten told newspaper VG.


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