Legal Rights and Wrongs in Begging

He
is a very relaxed and measured man who thinks very carefully before answering
but who, despite this, gets across a feeling of one who has a great passion for
the law within a democratic framework.

The
clients that he deals with cover the gamut of people being charged with drug
possession to those who have had their children removed by the State to
representing the victims of domestic violence. There is a relatively balanced
mix of Norwegians and Immigrants, though considering that immigrants comprise 20%
of Norwegian population this would suggest a slight skew in the numbers of
immigrants that need representation.

Which immigrants under which regulations?

Upon
being asked about the issue of Romanian beggars in Norway, Brindem emphasized
that people here under the EEU/Schengen agreement and begging are totally
different to rightful immigrants in Norway. The former are here legally but
only on a 3 month tourist visa and they are able to look for work. Immigrants
however, can be here under humanitarian rules or inter-nation visa regulations
and they have the rights and obligations of a resident of Norway. They may look
for work and if unable to work may seek help and assistance in surviving here.
The beggars are not entitled to government social assistance as they are
supposedly seeking work or on holiday and under the agreement must leave Norway
after 3 months if work has not been secured.

Why did Norway remove the ban on begging?

Knut
also verified that there used to be a law in Norway which forbade begging but
this was changed when it was felt that the very few who were begging seemed to
be Norwegians ‘down on their luck’, for example, alcoholics and drug addicts. It
was therefore deemed to be an infringement of their civil liberties to also
afflict them with a police record when what they needed was help. Once the law
was changed it then became apparent that people from outside of Norway started
to come across the border in order to ‘benefit’ from this new law change.

When
asked how easy it would be to change the law back so that begging was illegal
the answer was, ‘Quite easy to change’. The benefit to making a law change like
this is that it would encourage people to do other legal things to survive or
they would have to leave the country. It was agreed that begging does not add
any benefit to an individual or to society so to attract people into Norway who
want to add to the society here or for Norway to give opportunities, it is not
necessary to use the ‘civil liberty’ argument that begging as a ‘right’ is OK.

A
society should actively make decisions about how it wants the social landscape
to look and politicians must have the courage to ascertain the sentiment of the
people and then act on information that will have long term benefits. The
Nordic Page has had a poll running asking readers to decide whether Norway
should once again ban begging. It seems there is overwhelming support for this
moot with 62.2% of respondents in favour of bringing back the old law – to ban
begging (12 October, 2012)

This
lawyer’s predominant work is in defense. His zeal is in an absolute belief that
in a democracy every person has the right to be heard and even if accused of
committing a criminal offense must then have access to resources to be able to
defend themself.

Norway has a good justice system

Regardless
of the case this is a lawyer who works hard to establish the facts and who has
the capacity to argue the law. He believes that overall Norway has a good
justice system that works for both prosecution and defense. No matter whom a
lawyer is working for or which side of the bar, as they get more immersed in
any case, there is a feeling that ‘more understanding is needed and that the
decisions meted out are either not tough enough or too tough’.

A
good lawyer believes in his clients, fights for their right to be heard but
also gives out advice and hopes that they have the inner strength and capacity
to follow that advice, make necessary changes in themselves and desire to be a
great participant in society. A good person then has to accept the choices made
and still have the fortitude and character to keep working for them.

Some people may have to struggle to have a good life
in Norway

Some
people come here and strive hard to fit into their new communities while others
come here resistant to changing in any way. The latter groups of people may
struggle to find work, find friends and may also therefore struggle to have a
good life in Norway. These are the people who need a lot of assistance yet who
may not see that a part of the issue requires some self-assessment and
self-change.

In
order to have a strong democratic society we need lawyers and a justice system
prepared to believe in and fight for the rights of all people to have their
story told. Whether we agree with the sentencing or not, this is another issue
within the legal justice system and is separate to having the democratic right
to be heard. First and foremost is the moot that ‘one is innocent until proven
guilty’ and for that to mean something we require people of justice enabled and
prepared to represent any person with a need. It is in a democracy that we see
this working at its best.

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