Stricter Punishment for Ali than Ola

The survey appeared in Dagsavisen was conducted by the Department of Criminology and Sociology at the University of Oslo. The research was part of a Nordic study on people's attitudes toward punishment. The findings of the research revealed interesting patterns about Norwegian people's attitude toward crime and punishment.

The respondents in the survey were asked what kind of punishment should be given in certain offense scenarios, in which either a foreigner person or native Norwegian was offender. For example, in a hypothetical incident where a-foreign origin person beats his wife, 55 percent of the respondents put him in prison, while the figure remained only 45 percent when the offender has a Norwegian name.

– I got scared when I heard the results. It shows that we have a long way to go if people have such attitudes, “said Harald Stabell, one of the most experienced defense lawyers and former chairman of the Bar Association's committee for the Criminal and Criminal Procedure in Norway(Advokatforeningens lovutvalg for strafferett og straffeprosess).

Stabell told he is not surprised and this is regrettable. He noted that the essential and accepted principle of equality before the law in Norway is applied to all, but some people apparently believe that it does not apply to the people of another ethnic origin.

Arild Humlen, head of the Bar Association's legal committee agreed with Stabell and said that the survey shows some of us have a basic attitude that is ruled by racism. Humlen also pointed out the difference is not great, but it is said.

– It is obvious that we must be aware of it. I experienced it in a very special situation where someone would witness in connection with a criminal offense in Oslo. The first two witnesses had not been in Norway for along time and reported that they were unemployed. Then the judge asked the third witness: ” you're probably unemployed, are not you ? ” Then the third man said he was not, but a chemical engineer in a big hospital in Oslo. It sparked a pretty strong reaction from the judge panel. It showed a clear unfortunate attitude, “told Humlen to Dagsavisen.

About the Research

The project is part of the Nordic survey “Attitudes to punishment in the Nordic region”, which is a collaboration between researchers from the University of Oslo, University of Copenhagen, University of Iceland, Stockholm University and the University of Helsinki. The project is coordinated by Professor Leif Petter Olaussen at the Department of Criminology and Sociology at the University of Oslo. The project is funded by the Nordic Research Council for Criminology (nsfk), Justice and the Police and the University of Oslo.

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