Anders Breivik Sentence in Norway is a Triumph for Human Rights

A year after the atrocious massacre at Utoya Island, in which 77 young members of the Norwegian Labour Party were killed, the trial for the crimes has ended. Anders Breivik is sane and guilty.

As a reminder, the main point of the defense was that Breivik is not a mentally stable person and thus should be put in a mental institution rather than jail. It is of utter importance that Breivik has been declared sane, as the verdict recognizes the monstrosity of Breivik's act. Breivik's sentence is a maximum sentence under Norwegian law -- 21 years in prison, delivering the outcome wanted by the majority of Norwegians.

If he were to be declared insane, he would spent the rest of his life in a well maintained mental institution, enjoying the comfort better than the greater part of the inhabitants of this planet. This was seen as unacceptable by the public in Norway and has brought back the discussions about the death sentence. 

Fortunately enough, Norwegians have defended the European belief that no one has the right to take another's life, even if that one is responsible for the death of others. Human rights have once again won, keeping Europe away from the dark ages of the death sentence. Moreover, Breivik will most probably spend the greatest part, if not the rest of his life in prison. 

Furthermore, on the wider, more global scale, the verdict is extremely important, as an intractable economic crisis in Europe has led to the advance of the far right parties. Many in Europe feel that globalization is not going their way, that their country is being "invaded" by foreign aliens, that Muslims can never be good democrats, and that Europe is being ruled by the spineless multiculturalists who don't see the danger of Islam. 

Breivik's atrocious act is the product of the society that nurtured him and in which many share his views. The verdict of the maximum sentence under Norwegian law has once more acknowledged that Europe is embracing multiculturalism. It not only delivers justice, but it also clarifies the connection between his crimes and how dangerous rightwing ideologies have infiltrated European mainstream discourse. It is the problem that cannot be expunged simply by labeling it as mad, but must be tackled directly as the political threat to freedom and democracy. 

All that is left at this moment is to pray that crime like this will never repeat again. Politicians bare enormous responsibility of regulating and keeping the extremist away of the main discourse. 77 young people gave their lives for this cause. May they rest in peace.

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Marko Ceperkovic

As Policy Advisor at the U.S. House of Representatives Marko is dealing with Foreign Affairs, Defense, Immigration and Human Rights issues. At the same time he is a fellow at Johns Hopkins SAIS, participating in the Aitchison Public Service Fellowship in Government. Before coming to Washington, Marko lived in France, studying at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris. As former Executive Director's Assistant at Helsinki Committee for Human Rights he led Human Rights Schools for Western Balkans, while at the same time presiding over the Commission for Youth Rights in Serbia.

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