Author Archives: Ulf Stridbeck

The Norwegian Criminal Cases Review Commission Evaluated

Law professor Ulf Stridbeck, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo has led a government-appointed committee which proposes a number of measures and legislation to improve the Norwegian Cases Review Commission (NCCRC). The Committee was appointed by former Minister of Justice Knut Storberget. Stridbeck delivered the report, which unfortunately is in Norwegian, to the Minister of Justice in June this year.

The main conclusion is that the Commission works well: the NCCRC has confidence in the society in how they treat the cases. This is primarily because the NCCRC has the legislative and investigative responsibility in these matters.

Until the establishment of the NCCRC in 2004, it was the Public prosecutor who had this responsibility. This led to criticism from several directions, particularly because the Public prosecutor in several cases fought against re opening.
In spite of the fact that the NCCRC has confidence the committee considers that there are weaknesses with the current operations, and proposes several changes:

More transparency: The NNCRC should more often have public hearings on matters of great public interest.

Fewer minor cases: Proposes that “harmless” criminal cases (less than six months’ imprisonment) shall not be re opened if it has been ten years since the case was closed.

The courts should be able to overrule the NCCRC’s decisions when it comes to procedural error and statutory interpretation, but not in the evaluation of evidence.

Warns that the NCCRC may have too high a threshold to emphasize the work done by private investigators. The NCCRC is not always open minded enough to the private investigators effort.

Strengthening the Commissioners independence: The secretariat shall not propose the Commissioners decision, as they do today. This is the responsibility for the Commissioners to decide.

The NCCRC lacks an official media and communications strategy, and should soon acquire one.

There is a need for strengthening the NCCRCs law enforcement expertise.

The report is now on consultation with deadline in February 2013.

163 cases reopened in Norway since 2004

Since the start of the Norwegian Criminal Cases Review Commission (NCCRC) in 2004 it has reopened 163 cases according to the Annual Report 2011 . The NCCRC takes all sorts of cases, not only DNA cases. Every new evidence or new circumstance, not presented during the trial, may be an argument for reopening a case. Crimes of gain are the most common crime that is reopened. More about the NCCRC in the Criminal Law Quarterly vol. 58 2012 – special issue on wrongful convictions.