A man who was twice held in police isolation cells for days longer than the legal 48-hour period successfully sued the state on Monday, claiming his treatment violated the UN Convention on Human Rights. The Oslo District Court ordered the Ministry of Justice and Public Security pay the man NOK 25,000 (USD 4,200) in restitution, NOK 540 in damages and cover the court costs.
The 44-year-old man was first arrested in February for driving under the influence without a valid license, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). He was kept isolated in custody for five days straight. The man had high blood pressure and required daily medication, but had no drugs on him when he was arrested. He needed medical treatment after complaining of chest pains.
He was arrested again following a similar incident in April, and was held in isolation for four days. The court ruled the state violated the man’s rights by unnecessarily holding him in isolation beyond the permitted 48 hour period. “The isolation of prisoners in police custody is a system which has failed over many years,” the judgment read.
It was the first time such a case had been decided under the Human Rights Convention in Norway. The man’s lawyer, Frode Sulland said it was a unique and powerful judgment against the Norwegian government. “This is a practice that has been going on for very many years, and the warnings have been significant both nationally and internationally,” Sulland said. “It is very serious that nothing has been done about this before. Now it’s expected that the government will immediately take steps to end these violations.”
The ministry did not respond to NRK’s request for comment on Monday morning.