More humane prison conditions for Breivik?

The right-wing extremist mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik has won part of his lawsuit after a court in Oslo ruled in his favour regarding his treatment in prison. Solitary imprisonment in particular represented a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, the judges ruled. Some commentators see the verdict as a victory for democracy. Others are appalled.

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Diena (LV) /

Human rights have led to dead end

The ruling in favour of mass murderer Breivik will encourage criminals to pull out all the stops, the Latvian daily Diena complains:

“We have grown used to the principle that human rights are universal and apply for all. But this time our modern society has ended up at a dangerous dead end. Do prison sentences serve any purpose at all? With each new triumph of this kind Breivik and other mass murderers will come to see prison not as a punishment but as an opportunity to dictate the rules. … The inmates of Latvia's prisons won't turn into model citizens, but there is no reason to believe that prison is not useful as an instrument of re-education. After all, what's more important: the safety of society and punishment of criminals or the well-being of prison inmates?”

La Repubblica (IT) /

A ruling in the name of democracy

As strange as the ruling may seem in connection with a cold-blooded murderer like Breivik, La Repubblica sees it as a triumph for democracy:

“The judges in Oslo reached their decision on Breivik by deliberately ignoring who he is. They 'depersonalised' him. This is what the law demands of them, and they dutifully obeyed. It is in this depersonalisation that the great merit of the decision lies. … For the ruling was no longer just about Breivik - who doesn't care about justice anyway. It was about democracy itself. In Oslo the universal principle that even the scum of humanity must not be subjected to inhumane treatment was reaffirmed. And democracies are based on such principles. By ruling in favour of Breivik democracy did not triumph over him, but it reasserted its incontestable sovereignty.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

West's warped concept of humanism

The ruling is a symptom of an absurd brand of humanism in the West, the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita fumes:

“This case highlights how modern Western states are treating terms like 'crime', 'punishment' and 'justice' like leftovers from old authoritarian political systems. Instead they want to submit society as a whole to a kind of therapy. At the same time public interests in Norway have been completely ignored. All that matters is what Breivik thinks and feels. The state must ensure that he is happy, despite that fact that he has neither shown remorse nor renounced his Nazi ideology. This brings to mind an interview two years ago between Rzeczpospolita journalist Eliza Olczyk and Małgorzata Fuszara, the government representative against discrimination at the time. She stressed that during her time as a law student she doubted the whole purpose of penal law.”