The Nordic region has undergone a transformation in the past few years; whilst for the most part, the Nordic countries have advocated their commitment to the rule of law in terms of security, the global counter-terrorism industry wave has also now firmly established itself within the region. Like many other countries immersed in the ‘War on Terror’ or the ‘War on Extremism’ agendas, the Nordic countries are increasingly willingly to part from those long-standing commitments to the rule of law and due process in response to the ‘threat of terrorism’. Whilst there is no empirical evidence to suggest that adopting repressive policies ultimately increases the security of any state, the policies in the Nordic region now very much resemble the misguided and counter-productive models we see in the UK and elsewhere.
The UK has taken a lead in exporting its failed counter-terrorism and by association, its failed ‘countering extremism’ policies to other countries-this also includes the Nordic region. As CAGE has found, rather than seek out policies, which are based on empirical evidence, these countries have assumed a complacent attitude in welcoming policies which have embedded a suspect community and suspended the rule of law and due process. Most of the Nordic countries have already passed, or are in the process of passing, new counter-terrorism legislations and measures, which are likely to result in the further erosion of rights and essentially, a two-tier system of law. Various civil society actors within the region have also identified the likely dangers of such measures.
Read more: Sweden does not need new terror laws
Our investigations globally have revealed a disturbing pattern of abuses of due process and the erosion of the rule of law since the War on Terror started. This pattern has reached many corners of the world and over the last few years, CAGE UK has been investigating such abuses also in the Nordic region. We have identified a number of issues within the Nordic region, which appear to replicate the counter-terrorism policies and measures in the UK, including arrests, surveillance and harassment by security services, raids and citizenship deprivation. In addition to the evident racial and religious profiling within these measures, there is a clear lack of government accountability and transparency.
Nordic governments have adopted their own, but hardly unique, ‘countering extremism’ (CVE) policies, which have resulted in further embedding the suspect community by assessing community behavior through a security lens. CAGE Nordic has become aware of systematic harassment by preventive units across the region, including pressurizing communities into co-operating with the CVE programs. These policies can, in many ways, be seen as an extension of the UK’s PREVENT strategy which has become the first all-encompassing social policy targeting almost every aspect of Muslim life. It is this type of policy, and the PREVENT strategy in particular, that the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Maina Kiai, has stated ‘’could end up promoting extremism, rather than countering it’’.
(CC image courtesy of jgieseking on flickr)
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)