On human trafficking for forced labour at Norwegian garden centres

Supreme Court judgment of 7 June 2017, HR-2017-1124-A (case no. 2017/318), criminal case, appeal against judgment

A (Counsel John Christian Elden) v. The public prosecution authority (Public prosecutor Cecilie Schløsser Møller)

B (Counsel Øystein Storrvik) v. The public prosecution authority (Public prosecutor Cecilie Schløsser Møller)

Counsel for the aggrieved parties: Arne Gunnar Aas

Justices: Bårdsen, Høgetveit Berg, Ringnes, Bull, Utgård

The punishment for violation of section 224, subsection 1 b of the Penal Code 1902, cf. subsection 4, was imprisonment for three years and two months for one of the defendants and four years and six months for the other. The defendants, who were the respective managers of two garden centres, had used Indian seasonal workers for a number of years in such a way that the offence constituted gross human trafficking for forced labour.

With reference to international and national sources of law, the judgment describes in detail the contents of the terms 'human trafficking' and 'forced labour'. In the specific assessment, it was pointed out that the workers were grossly underpaid, had to sustain difficult working and housing conditions, had limited freedom of action and movement, did not understand Norwegian and did not manage their own money. They knew they were part of an illegal system and were completely bound to and dependent on their employers. It was not decisive that the agreements on seasonal work had initially been entered into voluntarily.

Read the whole judgment