Norway commends Ms. Ngozi Ezeilo for her comprehensive report to the Council on her activities and the analysis of a human rights-based approach to the administration of criminal justice in cases of trafficking in persons.
We would like to comment especially on the view of the Special Rapporteur that States must seek ways to alleviate the pressure put on victims during investigations and the prosecution process. Norway fully agrees that it is very important to lessen the degree of reliance on victim-witness testimony. When victim statements represent the main evidence in a case, the pressure can becomes unbearable. Having to wait for months and years in order to appear before the courts, also hinders assistance programs and the reintegration of victims into society. States should take note of the good practices described by the Special Rapporteur in her report.
If a case must be built on victims-witness testimony, much can be done to strengthen the position of the victim. In Norway, the use of expert witnesses, who at an early stage in the proceedings explain to the court in general how trafficking in human beings takes place, and which control-mechanisms traffickers use, can prepare the ground for testimony from the victims.
In all cases, victims should be provided with free legal assistance, not only for developing compensation claims, but also for the practical preparations for court cases.
We recommend that the Special Rapporteur in her future country visits continues to ask detailed questions to representatives from the police and prosecution service about how investigations can be designed in order to reduce pressure on the victims.
Finally, Norway would like to draw your attention to the important work in Vienna on the establishment of a review mechanism for the UN Convention against Transnational organized crime and its protocols, including the protocol on human trafficking. We hope that an effective and independent mechanism will be adopted at the conference of the parties later this year. Such a mechanism will surely strengthen the administration of criminal justice in cases of trafficking in persons.
Norway welcomes the efforts by the Special Rapporteur on cultural rights to address the very complex issues related to the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications. She rightly points to the fact that the scope, normative content and obligations of the State under the “right to science” remains underdeveloped, not least in light of the enormous impact that scientific advances and technologies have on our daily lives. The report provides an interesting overview of the challenges in the field and provides many ambitious recommendations.
We would in this regard appreciate to know more about which of these recommendations the Special Rapporteur would advise the Human Rrights Council to prioritise in order to move forward in this area?
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