African Press International (API)

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US scoffs over Norway’s weak anti-terror law

Posted by African Press International on September 5, 2007

US officials are urging Norway to toughen up a proposed anti-terror law. While some politicians have reacted angrily to what they consider meddling by the Americans, most others are taking the US lobbying in stride.

Norwegian Justice Minister says the US criticism won’t influence Norway’s proposed anti-terror law.

PHOTO: ANNE-STINE JOHNSBRTEN


US Ambassador Benson Whitney was keen to present the US view on Norway’s proposed legislation.

PHOTO: TRYGVE INDRELID

Newspaper Aftenposten reported over the weekend that the US ambassador to Norway met with Norway’s Justice Minister in June, to discuss the Americans’ “interest in the Ministry of Justice’s proposed terrorism legislation.”

The meeting was followed up last month with a letter from US Ambassador Benson Whitney, to which he attached a five-page, admittedly detailed “summary of observations, comments and questions from experts in Washington who have had the chance to examine the proposed legislation.”

The summary, Whitney wrote, was also “shared” with Norway’s Foreign Ministry.

In it, the American experts make it clear that they don’t think Norway’s proposed legislation is tough enough. They criticized the Norwegian government’s proposal that it won’t be illegal to be a member of a terrorist organization. The Norwegians think penalties should only apply if a suspect can be linked to the planning of a specific terrorist act.

The American experts also don’t think proposed rules against fund raising for terrorism are strong enough, and they raised many questions about how Norway would react to such events as hostage-taking, terrorist recruiting and threats.

Justice Minister Knut Storberget of the Labour Party says the Americans themselves took the initiative to express their views. Asked what he thought of the US’ objections, he said he believes the proposed Norwegian legislation is “very good and balanced.” He made it clear no changes would be made because of the American criticism.

Olav Gunnar Ballo, a member of Parliament for the Socialist Left (SV) party, didn’t appreciate the Americans’ input in the Norwegian legislative process. “I think Americans would have reacted as well, if Norway’s ambassador in Washington had written a letter to American authorities and said they shouldn’t go so far in their own terror laws,” Ballo said.

Storberget, whose Labour Party shares government power with SV, said he had no problems with the US initiative. Representatives from the Center Party, the Conservatives and the Progress Party had no problems, either. Elisabeth Aspaker of the Conservatives said it was “important that we learn from those in other countries, so that the law won’t be worthless before it’s passed.”

By Nina Berglund

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.aftenposteneng

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