Anders Breivik human rights violated in prison

How to punish a mass murderer?

anders breivik


Anders Breivik has won his case. The mass murderer persuaded a Norwegian court that his conditions in prison are inhuman and I’m bound to say that I agree with him. His conditions of incarceration are inhuman. The guards wake him at hourly intervals, sometimes strip-searching him. He’s allowed no contact with anyone except prison staff. He spends at least 22 hours a day alone in his cell.

On the other hand, do I think he deserves that sort of treatment? Of course I do. He set off a bomb in Oslo that killed eight people, and then he murdered 69 kids in cold blood on the island of Utøya. If the decision had been left to me, I’d have fed him slowly into the gearbox of a tractor feet first, but luckily the judicial systems of western democracies are not based on the atavistic rage of people like me.

If we’re going to treat convicted criminals worse than a rabid dog, then we need to be honest and just kill them.

Shoot them and get it over with.

We can’t have it both ways. If we claim to have abolished the death penalty but just replaced it with a system of torture then we are hypocrites, and from what we know of Breivik’s confinement, it certainly amounts to torture.

It has often been said, falsely, that hard cases make bad law when the opposite is in fact true: hard cases test good law and cases don’t come any harder than Breivik’s.

He’s vile. He’s an extremist, a terrorist, a heartless killer. His own father rejected him.

In other words, Anders Breivik is a perfect test of democracy. Do we send people to prison as punishment or for punishment? Admittedly, the jury is out on that one since we have developed a class of people for whom prison is a second home but in the absence of an alternative, what is to be done with the likes of Anders Breivik? Should there be some sort of extrajudicial punishment to be administered at the whim of a prison governor? Should that same governor have the right to punish you or me a little bit more if he disapproves, for instance of our not paying a TV licence?

It can’t happen. You’re either in jail or you’re not and no matter how repellent we might find Anders Breivik, he has been found guilty and sentenced but he was not sentenced to torture, much though we all might have wished for that. He was not sentenced to solitary confinement, without the possibility that he might meet a civilised individual in prison, a person who might perhaps help him to understand the enormity of his actions.

Can it be beyond the wit of man to have Anders Breivik mixing with prisoners who are not Nazis, not white supremacists, not adherents to an ideology that will reinforce his beliefs? Would it not make sense to expose Breivik to intellectual challenge from people who do not fear him, mentally or physically?

After all, if he isn’t in prison for rehabilitation, why not just kill him now? None of us would lose a wink of sleep over it.



Utøya survivors too often clam up

We survived the Breivik massacre

12 thoughts on “Anders Breivik human rights violated in prison

  1. I don’t believe people like him can be rehabilitated but I suppose it’s worth a shot.. pardon the pun.
    He might someday shed a tear for the innocent people he assassinated and those left behind who have to deal with what he did.. maybe.

  2. Thought provoking stuff as ever Bock. It’s obvious from the way he’s being treated that punishment and not rehabilitation is top-of-the-list for the Norwegian authorities as far as Anders Breivik is concerned. They do need to at least try to rehabilitate him, mainly so that he can feel some measure of the emotional agony he’s inflicted on the survivors. You can bet a pound-to-a-penny (or an øre-to-a-krone) Breivik still revels in this misbegotten deeds and feels like the real victim in this whole sad affair.

  3. Well, the ruling here in Oslo was met with dismay by those who consider his prison conditions (sleeping, exercising and study areas, plus all the gadgets the Norwegian prison system affords) to be more than acceptable. Equally dismayed where those who have argued that solitary confinement is necessary as his status is such that he will not be safe in normal prison environs. A raft of commentators have bemoaned his ability to hi-jack the political debate yet again. But – and this made me both angry and, when I had calmed down, proud to live here – almost everyone I talked to grudgingly accepted that solitary confinement is too harsh for any human, period.The problem of what to actually do with him though remains. Rehabilitation is the watchword of the prison system here, and the rate of prisoners released who re-offend (25 per cent) is one of the lowest in the world. But there is no rehabilitation process in place for Brevik because he is not going to be released. In a sense he represents a unique problem that no-one is rushing to try to solve.

  4. Of course we have to follow the rules of democracy and admit that sometimes that will hurt.
    Being a Norwegian I hate that, but still – we can´t treat people different.
    That said, there is possible to call him by his right name, a crazy childkiller. Don´t give him the satisfaction to see his name spread over the internet. Don´t show his picture where he is bringing shame to a uniform.
    Let him come out of isolation and join the other prisoners, I´m sure he will be quite the hero inside …

  5. The problem is, it is not possible to write an article about him without using his name. Otherwise, nobody would find it and nobody would read it.

  6. Yeay, well, abb child murderer will get you to it.
    But get the problem and the need for documentation.

  7. It isn’t easy to find a balance. If we write about him, he might read it and enjoy it. If we don’t write about him, how will people remember what he did?

  8. As said, I get the need for documenting gruesome actions.
    Still, this crazy guy will probably sew the Norwegian state again and again for as long as he can, just because he can. And that may be his right.
    But the balance should be to also write about the people who survived, and the people who lost someone, cause there are many stories to tell without giving him the space. The strength that these surviving kids showed are amazing.

  9. I don’t know these kids and I don’t have access to them. If you can provide an article about them, I would be happy to re-post it.

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