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Daily Archives: 20. April 2021 − News & Stories


Vic­tims of dome­stic vio­lence in Sval­bard poten­ti­al­ly in defen­ce­l­ess posi­ti­on

Kri­se­sen­ter­et Trom­sø, an insti­tu­ti­on to help vic­tims of dome­stic vio­lence, has rai­sed an alar­ming deba­te. Accor­ding to an artic­le published in NRK, vic­tims of dome­stic vio­lence may be in a far more hel­p­less situa­ti­on in Lon­gye­ar­by­en than in main­land Nor­way.

Back­ground: the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty

The back­ground is rela­ted to the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty, accor­ding to which citi­zens of all signa­to­ry count­ries have free access to Sval­bard. As a result, ever­y­bo­dy can live and work the­re wit­hout visa and work per­mit rest­ric­tions (a Schen­gen visa can be neces­sa­ry to get to Spits­ber­gen becau­se access is only available through the Schen­gen trea­ty area).

Hence, the Nor­we­gi­an “utlen­dingsloven” (for­eig­ner law) is not valid in Sval­bard, which regu­la­tes access and resi­dents of for­eig­ners in Nor­way. But this law also pro­vi­des sup­port to non-Nor­we­gi­an vic­tims of dome­stic vio­lence in Nor­way, for exam­p­le access to dedi­ca­ted insti­tu­ti­ons such as Kri­se­sen­ter­et Trom­sø (or else­whe­re) and to lawy­ers, to name some examp­les. This is not available in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, becau­se the law is not valid in Sval­bard. This can put for­eign women, who are finan­ci­al­ly depen­dent on their part­ner, in a very dif­fi­cult posi­ti­on: if they are not able to sup­port them­sel­ves finan­ci­al­ly, then retur­ning to their coun­try of ori­gin is likely to be the only solu­ti­on available. But the­se count­ries do often not pro­vi­de much of a per­spec­ti­ve, espe­ci­al­ly for peo­p­le who have left years ago and who may now have child­ren who may not have much of a rela­ti­onship their mother’s coun­try of ori­gin. As a result, such women may stay in a vio­lent rela­ti­onship lon­ger than they might have done with more sup­port.

Longyearbyen

For most peo­p­le, Lon­gye­ar­by­en is a good place whe­re you can have a good and safe life.
But the­re are excep­ti­ons, and for them, life can be even more dif­fi­cult than it would be in main­land Nor­way.

A lawy­er who works with vic­tims of dome­stic vio­lence comm­ents this as fol­lows: “It appears as if Sval­bard is Nor­we­gi­an when it suits us and sud­den­ly it is not Nor­we­gi­an when it does not fit us.”

Two poli­ce cases of dome­stic vio­lence sin­ce 2020

Two cases of dome­stic vio­lence have been inves­ti­ga­ted by the poli­ce sin­ce ear­ly 2020. Sys­sel­mann Kjers­tin Askholt points out that the poli­ce fol­lows the­se cases up just in the same way as on the main­land. She sees Nor­we­gi­ans who live wit­hout resi­dence per­mit in a for­eign coun­try in a rela­ti­onship with a local in a simi­lar situa­ti­on and explains that, for the vic­tim, the­se cases may always have other con­se­quen­ces than for a citi­zen of the respec­ti­ve coun­try.

Mayor Arild Olsen reco­g­ni­s­es the pro­blem and sees the need to inves­ti­ga­te the mat­ter on a poli­ti­cal level.

Han­ne Sten­vaag, lea­der of the kri­se­sen­ter­et (cri­sis cent­re) in Trom­sø, is afraid that the­re may be a high num­ber of unre­por­ted cases.

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