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July 22 attacks commission appointed

Members of the independent commission to review the July 22nd terrorist attacks were named on Friday by Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

Alexandra Bech Gjørv will lead the July 22nd attacks commission. PHOTO: Hjort

The commission will be led by Alexandra Bech Gjørv, who is a partner in the law firm Hjort, deputy chair of the board of Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) and a director of Norske Skog, the world’s largest newsprint and magazine paper producer. She also has experience as a director at industrial firm Norsk Hydro and Norwegian state oil company Statoil.

Bech Gjørv – along with eight other Norwegians and a further, as-yet unconfirmed male member with police experience from another Scandinavian country – will be responsible for investigating the response to the Oslo bombing and Utøya shootings. They will be independent of government with their own secretariat, and will be expected to deliver a report to the Prime Minister by August 10, 2012.

‘What really happened?’
On being named as the commission leader, Bech Gjørv told NRK that the commission’s “two main questions” would be “what really happened on July 22” and “what can we learn.” She suggested that she would look “more at the societal aspects than at particular individuals,” although she admitted that “we must look at the decisions taken by individuals.” She told newspaper Aftenposten that she herself knew a family friend who was present at Utøya on the day of the attacks. In addition, she confirmed that she and her fellow members would look at criticism of the police’s handling of the events that have been made public in recent days, but would not seek to “create new victims by running over people who feel they have stretched themselves as far as they can go, but who going forward are going to be met with criticism.”

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has asked the commission to “map all relevant aspects” of the attacks, “get the facts on the table” and bring forward suggested improvements for the future in a “plain and honest” manner. He nonetheless stressed that politicians should not simply wait for the outcome of the commission before bringing forward new measures related to the attacks. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that Stoltenberg has already increased funding for the police and the police intelligence unit PST. The Prime Minister commented that politicians should come forward with “answers as fast as possible” that they “owe all those left behind and the survivors.”

“Both they and we as a country need to know what happened, why did this happen?,” Stoltenberg concluded.

Opposition support – apart from the Progress Party
Opposition leaders, including the Progress Party’s Siv Jensen, have raised concerns that they have not been properly consulted regarding the commission or its membership, according to reports by NRK. They had criticized the first choice for leader of the commission, Supreme Court judge Aage Thor Falkanger, because the terror suspect would have recourse to make an appeal to the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, Stoltenberg stressed that the leaders of the Conservative Party, the Christian Democratic Party and the Liberal Party “support the proposal,” acknowledging that the Progress Party had simply “taken note of it.”

The other members of the commission will be:

  • Ragnar Line Auglend, former police chief of Hordaland (which includes the city of Bergen)
  • Hanne Bech Hansen, former police director of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Laila Bokhari, researcher with the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)
  • Einar Enger, former director of Norwegian State Railways and dairy producer Tine
  • Lieutenant General Torgeir Hagen, former head of the Norwegian Intelligence Service
  • Prof. Guri Hjeltnes, historian and journalist based in Oslo
  • Linda Motrøen Paulsen, Vice-President of the Norwegian Red Cross
  • Karin Straume, chief county medical officer for Finnmark, north Norway, and general practitioner

Views and News from Norway/Aled-Dilwyn Fisher
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