Au pair case heads for Supreme Court

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Norway’s highest court (Høyesterett) has agreed to hear an appeal filed by a wealthy Oslo businessman and his wife, who’ve been convicted of violating Norway’s au pair program. The violations resulted in alleged exploitation of young women from the Philippines, who came to Norway under what’s supposed to be a cultural exchange program but ended up working long hours as poorly paid household help.

Ragnar Horn and his wife Joey Shaista Horn were convicted in both the Oslo City Court and the Norwegian appeals court Borgarting lagmannsrett, fined and sentenced first to five months and then to 90 days in prison. They were found guilty of having two au pair in their home, when they’re only allowed one, with one of them fraudulently brought in by a neighbour who’s also been convicted. The young women were only supposed to work a limited number of hours a week but their attorney claimed they ended up working 11 hours a day plus four hours every Saturday and two hours every Sunday, for wages that amounted to NOK 41 an hour (USD 4.80 at current exchange rates).

The Horns have since hired prominent attorneys to defend themselves and appealed to the Supreme Court, which decided to hear the case that’s among many prompting  calls for crackdowns on au pair families and even scrapping the au pair system. Ragnar Horn, son of philanthropist Hans Herman Horn who built up a fortune in the shipping business, has earlier admitted guilt to several violations of immigration law but has denied violating criminal code and is arguing for reduced prison terms for himself and his wife, who’s also had a successful career in business.

newsinenglish.no staff