Jussbuss applauds closure in the Netherlands

Waiting list to zone in Netherlands JussBussPrison "Norgerhaven gevangenis" in Veenhuizen in Netherlands. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix

Jussbuss applauds closure in the Netherlands

JussBuss (Press Release): regarding the Norwegian Government’s announcement of February 21 regarding termination of the Norgerhaven agreement.


The Prison Law group at Jussbuss, The University of Oslo’s student-run legal aid clinic, applauds the Norwegian Government’s decision not to prolong the agreement with the Netherlands under which Norway has rented prison space at Norgerhaven Prison.

Jussbuss has long challenged the agreement to house Norwegian inmates at Norgerhaven Prison on both legal and practical grounds.

Norway and the Netherlands entered into the original Norgerhaven agreement in 2015 in haste and without adequate time for reflection and analysis.

We celebrate the Norwegian government’s better judgement in its recent decision not to extend the agreement and hope that it will refrain from entering into similar agreements in the future.

Dutch jurisdiction

Neither practical nor rational reasons support a decision to renew the Norgerhaven agreement. The arrangement raised difficult questions regarding jurisdiction over Norwegian inmates in the Netherlands.

Norwegian citizens and residents have, to a large extent, served time under Dutch jurisdiction while at Norgerhaven prison. The arrangement has thus created a system in which Norway has lacked jurisdiction to investigate potential violations of international conventions such as the Convention Against Torture that might have affected Norwegian citizens and residents at Norgerhaven, even though these individuals were serving Norwegian sentences.

Norway’s indifference to the precarious judicial circumstances precipitated by the contract demonstrates a lack of concern for its own prison population. This is particularly alarming given the Norwegian Criminal Justice System’s alleged focus on rehabilitation of sentenced persons.

Less rehabilitation

At Jussbuss, we work with sentenced individuals on a daily basis. Law students from Jussbuss have visited inmates in Norgerhaven Prison four times a year since the Norwegian and Dutch governments first entered into the Norgerhaven agreement in 2015.

Our clients’ experiences in Norgerhaven Prison have led us to believe that inmates there have received fewer and less meaningful rehabilitation opportunities than their counterparts in Norwegian prisons. We understand that the Norgerhaven agreement was meant to shorten the waiting-period for sentenced persons to serve time in Norwegian prisons. This goal should never have been prioritized at the cost of inmates’ rehabilitation opportunities.

Norway has a responsibility to maintain a humane criminal justice system in which rehabilitation and reconciliation come first. Ensuring that all of Norway’s prisoners serve time at home, close to family and a welfare system that will address their needs, is an excellent first step in restoring focus on the rehabilitation of future community members and neighbors.

Source: Jussbuss /Scanpix / Norway Today

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