Court rules Anders Breivik's human rights violated in jail

Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik's human rights have been violated during his imprisonment for terrorism and mass murder, a court has ruled.

Anders Behring Breivik has sued the government. Picture: AP
Anders Behring Breivik has sued the government. Picture: AP

In a written decision, the Oslo district court said Breivik’s prison conditions after he killed 77 people in attacks in 2011 breached an article in the European Convention on Human Rights prohibiting inhuman and degrading treatment.

The ruling specifically cited Breivik’s isolation in two different prisons since his arrest on 22 July 2011. It also said authorities had not given enough attention to his mental health when determining his conditions in prison.

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The court dismissed Breivik’s claim that the government had also violated his right to respect for private and family life. It ordered the government to pay Breivik’s legal costs of 331,000 kroner (£28,000).

“The prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment represents a fundamental value in a democratic society,” the court said. “This applies no matter what - also in the treatment of terrorists and killers.”

Breivik sued the government, saying his isolation from other prisoners, frequent strip searches and the fact that he was often handcuffed while moving between the three cells at his disposal violated his human rights.

During a four-day hearing at the Skien prison where he is serving his sentence, he also complained about the quality of the prison food and about having to eat with plastic utensils.

The government rejected his complaints, saying he was treated humanely despite the severity of his crimes.

Breivik’s attacks shocked Norway on 22 July 2011.

After months of meticulous preparations, he set off a car bomb outside the government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight people and wounding dozens. He then drove to Utoya island, where he opened fire on the annual summer camp of the left-wing Labour Party’s youth wing.

Sixty-nine people were killed, most of them teenagers, before Breivik surrendered to police.

Professor Kjetil Larsen of the Norwegian Institute of Human Rights said he was surprised by the decision yesterday.

Prof Larsen said he thought it was clear that the treatment of Breivik does nto violate the human rights convention.

“I thought that what came out during the trial made that even clearer,” he said.

Breivik has three cells to himself in the high-security wing of the prison. He has access to video game consoles, a television, a DVD player, newspapers and electronic typewriter.

He is allowed visits from family and friends, but has not received any except for his mother before she died.