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From October 28 to November 3, 2007, the delegates from Peking University Law School Legal Clinic, Gong Wendong (Vice Dean and Clinic teacher), Ms. Liu Donghua (Clinic teacher and General Secretary of China Clinic Committee of Legal Educator), Mr. Lu Jiangnan and Miss Ye Mingxin (teaching assistants), visited Oslo University in Norway, especially the JUSS-BUSS and related Norwegian legal systems. The visit is part of the mutual visits between the legal aid institutes in the two universities, which aim to exchange legal aid experience and promote future collaboration.
According to the deliberate arrangement by JUSSBUSS, delegates paid visits to many legal departments in Norway, including student legal aid institutes, NGOs and governmental departments. During this period, delegates also came to know the mores of Norwegian people, which function as the basis for operation of laws. This report serves as a narrative of the visit, benefits, suggestions and proposals for future cooperation.
Part One: Student Associations
General knowledge and Experience
During the seven-day visit, we visited JUSSBUSS twice, visiting its office place, hearing the main members‘ introduction on JUSSBUSS and watching the group meetings of JUSSBUSS.
In the first visit, three JUSSBUSS members who were Endre Refsdal, Anne Sofie Hippe, and Andreas Moen introduced the general situations of JUSSBUSS to us. There are totally three law schools in Norway, each of which has its own legal clinic. JUSSBUSS is a student center of legal aid, and also the legal clinic of Oslo University Law School. JUSSBUSS is operated by the students of Oslo University Law School, established in 1971.There are three mainly aspects in JUSSBUSS’s work, including case work, legal research and lobbying.
Regarding the organizational structure and working mechanism, majority of the decision-making of JUSSBUSS is made by all the members of the collective, all members of the event from the controversial vote. There is no distinction of levels in the organizational structure. The post of “manager” is held by a member exclusively responsible for the daily work of the organization and management (as Endre Refsdal). Legal aid for the daily work of the case, according to the type and the quantity, is divided into four working groups, dealing with immigration law, prison and tenancy law, debt and family law, labor, welfare and social security law. Each group consists of 7-8 members. There are two ways receiving clients, including telephone and on-site advisory reception. According to the law of Norway, the law student could not appear at court as a litigation agent, so the handling of the case is generally to provide the clients with legal advice. For each case, albeit by a specific treatment of a member, the case has been handled by the panel is the result of collective responsibility. Each group takes weekly group meetings, focusing on the discussion and collective evaluation about the case dealt with by each member in order to ensure the quality of cases. In addition, working groups also cooperate in the process of handling the case. If it is found that the legal issues involved in is more suitable for other groups to be responsible for, the relevant group would discuss specific cases to determine which group is responsible for. Address other aspects of the work, such as lobbying, academic debate and the political debate, and the operation work of the exchange with the Chinese side, are taken charge by ad hoc committees.
As regards the staff composition, a professor of the Faculty of Law, Oslo University, as the guidance teacher of JUSSBUSS, can be sought to help in the case handling and academic research by students. JUSSBUSS members maintain the size of about 30 people. Each year, there are a lot of law school students applying to join JUSSBUSS, who will be interviewed by high-grade members. The standards inspecting applicant to enter JUSSBUSS are more in enthusiasm and sense of responsibility of the work of JUSSBUSS, rather than academic standards and the ability to work. Each member needs to work in JUSSBUSS for three semesters, as a full-time worker, who will be required to deal specifically with cases and related work in the first two semesters. In the last semester, as senior members, they will provide guidance and help to the new members, and don’t need to be responsible for dealing with specific cases, and also change from the full-time into part-time. After working in JUSSBUSS for one and a half years, the student can get the appropriate credits.
Regarding the working conditions, JUSSBUSS has a fixed place provided by Oslo University Law School for receiving clients, and routine business, meetings and debates, gathering and other activities. In addition, JUSSBUSS has a fully functional database system to record cases of information, processing, analysis of relevant data to help students in academic research and legal research, access to accurate and detailed information.
During the second visit, we watched the group meetings on case working of JUSSBUSS. Four work groups convene a working conference respectively in every Wednesday, when all the members including full-time and part-time staff should participate in the meeting. Before the meeting, each member emails the profile of the cases which he is responsible for handling and his own views on them to other members. At the meeting, followed by each member reporting the profile and the progress of the case, the other members put forward opinions and suggestions, and discuss it, and thus form a relatively consistent processing advice.
Contrast and Understanding
As in the forms of organization, content, objectives and functions etc., JUSSBUSS is similar to the Legal Clinic courses and Legal Aid Association of Peking University Law School in some aspects. But we’d like to make some comparisons and conclude the advantages from the two different institutions.
We are impressed that JUSSBUSS form a virtuous cycle in case work, legal research and lobbying. Based on the consultation and processing of daily cases for the legal issues, students are motivated to study and research, then through lobbying, debating and other activities to promote the protection of human rights and disadvantaged groups on the legislative level, thereby further to impact on the specific handling of the case. A virtuous circle of the work structure makes JUSSBUSS play its own role in different levels, from cases handling to the formulation and revision of the rules, from the concrete implementation of the law to the legislative activities, such as the choice of values. JUSSBUSS combines the purpose of its social service with the function of educating students so well, which gives us very big touch and inspire.
In comparison with the length of time which is one semester and five credits of Legal Clinic courses in Peking University Law School, there is a longer time of working experience (three semesters) and more credit acquirement(15 points) for each JUSSBUSS members, in which students can be trained and learn better and more adequately, can be even able to mobilize students’ enthusiasm and interest in working, servicing and learning in such strongly practical institutions, and also promise the student can take up enough time and energy in working and studying in JUSSBUSS.
The seriousness and professionalism of JUSSBUSS members is well worth our respect. They put the work as their own full-time business, building the centre for colleagues and their own warmth home. In their group meetings, the views of members are not only at the level of legal analysis, also includes the wording and other details of the expression.
In addition, JUSSBUSS fully functional database software is worth learning: powerful data recording and analysis tools will enable us to study and work more efficient, accurate; and JUSSBUSS good working conditions, such as spacious and independent office, adequate computer hardware, make us keenly feel the importance of the conditions to improve work quality and efficiency.
At the same time, by contrast, we also found that the legal clinic in Peking University Law School has its own advantages and characteristics. For example, in the courses of legal clinics, students can get the guidance of a teacher‘s team consist of the judges, lawyers and college teachers, who can open up horizons of students, help students multi-dimensionally analysis and solve a problem from various angles. In addition, under Chinese law, regardless of the students in the course of the legal clinics, or members of the Legal Aid Association, can be agents of the clients appearing at court, directly safeguarding the rights and interests of the parties through legal means, which makes students help the clients, study and train in the proceedings through more ways.
In JURK, the director of JURK administrative affairs introduced the general situations on JURK to us. JURK was founded in 1974, when a number of female lawyers and students of the Faculty of Law, Oslo University, initiated formation. JURK aims to conduct the struggle against the oppression of women, safeguard the rights of women, and improve women‘s legal status. The main activities of JURK include: First, providing the parties gratis legal services, mainly involving the protection and the realization of women’s rights in the housing, visas, immigration, prisons, domestic violence, discrimination in employment, social welfare and so on. The way receiving clients concerned is mainly telephone advisory, meanwhile, a fixed time in every week for on-site reception advisory; second, involving that women express their ideas on the political issues, are mainly in the form of drafting legislation and submitting comments on their own views to the media and the relevant departments; the third is preventive work, primarily through the training of legal knowledge to strengthen the awareness of women‘s rights and the advancement of women‘s rights capacity.
And similar to JUSSBUSS, the members of JURK also come from the junior class students of full-time work and the high-grade part-time students. Full-time members are responsible for dealing with specific cases, while high-grade students are not dealing with the case, but to help and guide the lower grades students, meanwhile, doing some writing paper, writing the draft legislation, and making brochures and so on. All of JURK staff are female, because the objects of their work and service are female, and the issues involved their cases are often more suitable for women to deal with.
Regarding the organizational structure, the all-member‘s meeting is the decision-making agency of JURK, which is held every three weeks, by which all important decisions are done. JURK has three groups of members responsible for dealing with three specific cases: issues of debt, social security, prisons; cases involving the employment, social welfare, domestic violence and humiliating treatment; issues of housing , property ownership, immigration and so on. In addition, there are also so much cooperation between JURK and JUSSBUSS.
The scope of the protection of the rights in a certain sense is a sign of the level of protection of rights. JURK left a deep impression for us on the breadth of women‘s right protection scope. Women subjected to discrimination and abuse in many aspects of the social life, could seek corresponding help in the JURK. JURK relatively comprehensive women rights protecting system let us deeply appreciate the achievement of feminist movement in Norway. In addition, through the news media, legislative proposals, communicating with the public sector, and participating in public discussions to express the ideas and voices, JURK is able to affect the enactment of law and the choice of policy from many aspects, which is worthy of our attention and learning. However, we think that the JURK tradition of recruiting female staff only, may be improved, so that more men are involved in the cause of women protection.
Part Two: Governmental Institutions
1. Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget)
An intern in the parliament introduced us the history of Norwegian Parliament. He proudly showed us the Norwegian Constitution written in 1814, which has lasted for nearly 200 hundred years without amendments. The constitution establishes the principle of people’s sovereignty, separation of power and human right protection. In practice, the power of parliament is higher than that of administration and Judicial department. This is deeply embedded in the principle of people’s sovereignty, the tradition of which is also expressly revealed by the public votes since the establishment of independent Norway. Norwegian people are definitely deciding their own country’s fortune, no matter on the issue of reserving monarchy or on that of joining EU. What is more impressive, the King automatically announced that whether to preserve the monarchy should be decided by the people. In the real world, the King has no substantial power and does not interfere in the political issues. Instead, the King is always nice to the people and thus gains widespread respects from the public.
Although a national parliament, it is not as splendid and luxurious as we thought. It’s ancient, simple and plain. 169 representatives work here. As a multi-party nation, Norway now has 7 parties in its parliament and the Labor Party in office. Every representative’s chair indicates his/her name, region or industry. Most affairs will be resolved in the representative chamber instead of Senate. Every representative works 6 months each year and they can go back to their region to know more about the people there in the rest of the year.
There are several committees in the parliament, taking charge of legislation including diplomatic policies, education, environmental protection, medical care and so on. Representatives need not receive high education. However, most of them insist on the political career since their graduation from high schools, and that is also recognized by the public.
Under the parliament, there is a consulting team consisted of lawyers and other staff. Those members provide professional advices to representatives after their research work. Compared with Parliament in USA, the Norwegian parliament is much smaller in scale, which to some extent brings the problem of supply insufficiency of legislation knowledge.
Women’s rights development is also seen in the concrete positions in parliament. There emerged several excellent female politicians and presidents.
When leaving the parliament, we found the great building just standing among other common residence buildings. It is so peacefully, so quietly and so naturally close to the people.
Ombudsman system in Norway is so unique that the Norwegian word “ombudsman” becomes a universal word in English-speaking countries. Under the parliament, there is an ombudsman who is responsible to the parliament, accepts public complaints about administrative departments, raises suggestions to the administration and makes reports to the parliament. Other administrative departments have their own ombudsman, taking charge of citizens’ complaints from different areas, such as medical ombudsman and education ombudsman.
(1) Norwegian Parliament Ombudsman
Ombudsman is appointed and financially supported by the parliament. He or she is independent and organizes his or her team according to the budget. Now this Ombudsman has 22 lawyers and 10 administrative staff. Their work covers social welfare, commercial permissions and care for family and children and so on. Citizens should first use up the remedies inside the administrative system, such as administrative re-consideration. Then they can go to the Ombudsman within one year. Each year Ombudsman will receive about 2000 cases. If the case meets the requirement, Ombudsman will undergo written examination of the case and require the administration to provide interpretations or answers. In the year of 2006, Ombudsman accepted 58% of the 2000 cases and replied them. Within the 58%, Ombudsman criticized the administration up to 15%. However, Ombudsman’s comment has no legal effect. Parties can go to the court if they want.
To our surprise, Ombudsman does a very good job without any legally binding time limit for their work. He has very high reputation and is considered as a just man by the public. Law students think it is a great honor to work in the Ombudsman. In practice, administration in general will cooperate with the Ombudsman and provide the targeted materials. The non-resistance is out of our expectation.
(2) Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombudsman
Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombudsman was established on January 1st, 2006. It is a branch of Children and Equality Affairs Department and an independent public administration institution. Its task is to implement “Norwegian Gender Equality Act” and “Anti-Discrimination Act” to avoid discrimination according to race, nationality, blood, skin color, language, religion and moral intends. Additionally, it implements the anti-discrimination clauses in the “Working Environment Act”. The Ombudsman expressed their opinions on discrimination cases through their written materials. Although those opinions have no direct deciding effect, they influence the society and related departments by the Ombudsman’s investigation, analysis on legal rights and obligations. Generally, Ombudsman collects and produces materials and monitors social activities to develop new knowledge and promote equality in different areas. Finally, the Ombudsman introduces how to operate the standards and principles in the mentioned Acts in real life.
3. Oslo Court
We were very lucky to have the opportunity to audit a trial in the Oslo Court—a case concerned with perjury.
Criminal Court in Norway is different from in China. The prosecutor and defendant sit along the two sides of the judge, while in China the defendant sits in front of the judge. There is no clerk here and judge himself makes records. If it is a very important case, the court will use record tape. In the panel, the judge sits in the center and the two jurors, one man and one woman, sit on the right and left. Their chairs are a little lower than judge’s. With the help of the simultaneous interpretation, we came to know some basic court rules and the cross examination between the two sides.
The prosecutor was a really young woman who was always polite to the defendant and smiling all the time. Although it was a criminal case and that the two parties debated a lot, the court was filled of peaceful atmosphere instead of adverse. This was really impressive to us.
After the trial, we discussed with an experienced judge who also served JUSSBUS twenty years ago. He introduced that judges in the court deal with all kinds of cases and they are not appointed into different departments, such as criminal, civil and other departments. There are about 100 judges in the Oslo court, 60 of whom are appointed by the country and the rest of whom not. However, the rest 40 judges can also make judgments independently. Each court will be assigned two jurors, commonly one man and one woman. But in some special circumstances, such as avoidance, the jurors should be changes thus the court can not guarantee the composition of one man and one woman. Each year the Oslo court accepts 12000-13000 cases, 6000 of which is criminal cases and 2000-3000 of which is civil cases. The latter part also includes some cases where the government is sued. The composition of case type is very different from China, where most cases are civil and economic cases. And many criminal cases in Norway are related to the smuggling, drug trade, trafficking and other crimes conducted by crime groups from south Europe.
As far as concerned to the issue of monitoring of telephone, the judge made detailed explanation. First of all, it is generally not permitted to monitor telephones according to the laws except serious criminal cases (probably more than 10 year sentence) with strict procedures, such as permissions from Head of Security Bureau, the Court, national lawyer. What’s more, as the evidence the record cannot be used partly. The other party can inquire other parts of the record. Lawyers’ telephone cannot be monitored unless it is unavoidable in the monitoring of suspects. When the record is likely to be used in less serious cases, the acceptance of the record by the court should be first approved by the defense lawyer.
Finally we visited the court and the security measures. We are pleasant to find that there are professionals taking charge of the promotion of the court to let more people know the court. The distance between court and the public is very short: all people can visit the court without strict security check. Transparency is another point. Each courtroom has a wall of glass and people outside can see what is going on in the courtroom. The court also has very interesting decoration, such as the arts made from legal scripts.
4. Oslo Prison
To visit the prison in Oslo is one of our most exciting experiences. In one hand, we came to know the situation of human right protection in Norway from the lowest class; in another, we vividly saw the successful effects of JUSSBUSS from its client.
At first, we thought we would talk with officers of the prison—it is a common style in China. But amazingly we had discussion with a prisoner alone without monitoring by police.
The prisoner is a German, who is arrested in Norway due to drug trade. There were some reasons for the man to turn to JUSSBUSS for help: he had language barrier here and didn’t know much about Norwegian law, his lawyer cost a lot but was not that responsible. Through the brochures displayed by JUSSBUSS in the prison, he realized that law students could come to prison and thus established contact with JUSSBUSS. Since then, the law student has visited him frequently and set off applying for reducing his penalty.
Through the conversation with the prisoner, we knew that he was extremely satisfied with the work by JUSSBUSS student. He said the student was very responsible for the client without any payment. The student just stood on the prisoner’s position to think about all kinds of questions, write all needed legal documents, talk to different officers and finally successful got the approval of reducing penalty from the prison. Four months later, the prisoner can leave Norway ahead of schedule.
The student is not alone. There is a team in JUSSBUSS taking charge of helping prisoners. The case is only a small one. Other students also come to prisons around Oslo on time and meet with prisoners. They also keep very good relationships with prisons. They made special “the Prisoner’s Handbook” with English version and Norwegian version to help prisoners to know more about their own rights.
The prisoner also described his life in prison to us. He had a very good situation, both in physiology and psychology. He believed that penalty should only deprive people’s freedom and time instead of making people go mad; if the only goal of penalty is to oppress people to mad, it would be better for the country to shoot the prisoner to death in the very beginning; the Norwegian prison was doing a good job in this aspect. We found the prison really played a very positive role in helping people come back to the society. For instance, prisoners can wear their own clothes instead of uniforms; they can have classes and can receive median incomes according to their labor work.
When leaving the prison, we all could not stop thinking. What is the real role of prison in the society? Did we neglect such a big group of prisoners? Did we ever remember to protect their rights?
Part Three: Non-Governmental Organizations
1. Norwegian Centre for Human Rights(NCHR)
In the office of Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, we were warmly received by Geir Ulfstein and Cecilie Figenschou Bakke representing the staff of NCHR. The communication between us and the welcome dinner let us have more knowledge and understanding about the NCHR.
NCHR was founded in 1987, is an organization which belongs to Oslo University, in the meantime, also recognized as the national human rights institution by the Paris principle of the United Nations. It mainly concentrates on the development of interdisciplinary teaching and research work which takes international human rights as the theme, and the observation of the development of human rights situation in Norway, also handing over a report on it, thereby promoting the exaltation of the Norway and international human rights level. NCHR shares a wide range of international cooperation projects in China, Indonesia, South Africa and many other countries and regions, regarding scientific research teaching projects and exchanging projects as principal issues, covering minority rights, labor rights, employment discrimination, women‘s rights and so on. The operation of each project is relatively independent, making collective report on its work to NCHR in the form of an annual report and special reports.
Among cooperation with many countries, the project cooperated with China is the largest one. 2007 is the 20th anniversary of the NCHR, also the 10th anniversary of NCHR project in China. A focus of the project in China is to promote China‘s human rights education. NCHR has successively held teachers training programs, in cooperation with local universities in Province of Jilin, Hunan, Sichuan, Beijing, Shanghai, and Inner Mongolia, and published the first Chinese teaching book of international human rights law cooperating with China University of Politics and Law, China‘s Diplomacy College in 2002. NCHR has also translated a number of well-known human rights works to Chinese to promote human rights education in the development of China. Another important project in China is on the launching of cooperative projects, the scope of the study of which includes minority rights, labor rights and the prohibition of discrimination in employment, the western rural development and human rights, women‘s rights, and so on. The third important point of China project focuses on strengthening the capacity of the dialogue and cooperation on human rights and legal issues related to the reform between Norway and China. Through financing postgraduates, legal seminars, training courses and actively participating in the human rights dialogue between Norway and China, NCHR understands and disseminates Chinese culture and knowledge, so as to strengthen the cooperation in various fields of human rights between Norway and China, and the capacity to communicate.
NCHR gives us great inspiration by attaching great importance for human rights education. Promoting human rights education is one of the core contents of the NCHR work in China projects. The work of teacher training and writing teaching materials can improve educators’ awareness of human rights and human rights education level, thereby can more widely promote awareness of human rights among the educated person. NCHR‘s staff told us the teacher training classes had not been attached sufficient importance of Chinese universities, especially education instructors of higher institutions in the western region when the project has just been initiated, but in recent years, the teachers training class project has attracted a large number of teachers to participate, and achieved good results in Chengdu, Hohhot, and other cities in the western region. The facts above tell us, due to NCHR’s attentions towards improving the educators’ awareness of human rights, and with the work of the human rights education year by year, the awareness and knowledge of human rights of educators’ in higher institutions, including colleges and universities in western China, have been obvious raised, which will have a positive impact on college students’ concept on the human rights. The idea of with human rights education improving the human rights situation is doubtlessly full of far-sighted.
In the projects in China, with the promotion of education and research of human rights, NCHR focuses on strengthening the capacity of co-operation and dialogue with China on human rights issues. We feel admirable and convincing for such thinking and attitude of the work. As we all know, the human rights situation in every country is closely linked with culture, history, level of economic development, the legal system and other factors of the country, so the human rights situation in all countries have different national backgrounds. NCHR understands the importance of understanding the Chinese legal system, Chinese culture, which can help Norway understand the current human rights situation in China even more profoundly, thus promoting cooperation and dialogue between China and Norway on the basis of full understanding. The ideas and attitudes of NCHR can both respect objective reality and help mutual win.
2. Norway Bar Association（NBA）and Legal Aid Center
In the conference room of Norway Bar Association, the representative director of the NBA and Norway legal aid centers introduced us on their profiles respectively.
In Norway, about 90 percent of the lawyers are members of the NBA, a total of 6,000 members. NBA‘s main aim lies in the maintenance of due process of law, assurance of the high quality of the legal profession, promoting positive legal practice, and safeguarding the interests of members, to promote cooperation among members. In NBA, there are a number of special working committees responsible for the related work. While NBA carries out its work in the whole country, it has also carried out extensive international co-operation, mainly involving human rights, criminal law, and other issues. November 2006, NBA with the All China Lawyers Association and t Beijing Lawyers Association, successfully held a seminar taking theme of "China - Norway Lawyers’ Forum - lawyers and state governed by the rule of law" , and published speeches and thesis after the seminar.
In Norway Legal Aid Center, lawyers’ legal aids are all part-time jobs, handling about 5,500 cases annually. Under Norwegian law, legal aid only deals with civil cases, not criminal cases. Norway legal aid work is also faced with some problems. For example, the standard of the clients may receive legal aid provided by the law is the income level of pre-tax income as a criterion to determine. In Norway, a nation of such a high tax rate, after the high level of tax paying, actual income of the clients having high pre-tax income is usually very low, in fact, the practice of taking pre-tax income as a standard has made the standard of legal aid very low, which can not let more people having real need of legal aid receive the legal aid.
We feel that there is not very close co-operation and ties between Norway‘s lawyers and law students’ study and practice, the reason for which, the representative director of NBA told us, is the law does not allow a law student to represent at court, which limits lawyers’ role in guiding the JUSSBUSS students. On the other hand, NBA thinks that combining lawyers and the education of law students is to be learned from the practice. Also, NBA is considering such cooperation and the direction of development. The above tells us that the practice of integrating lawyer, judge resources and teaching in the Peking University Law Clinic is really our advantages and characteristics.
In the aspect of legal aid, we understand that there are also some conflicts between the Norway‘s legal aid lawyers and legal services students, differed from the situation in China, the focus and reason for which is not the economic income brought about by the legal aid, but the quality of cases control. This will enable us to feel deeply that the legal aid situation is closely related with the country‘s economic development level and the degree of development of the legal market.
Part Four: Mores in Norway
Life in Norway itself alone brought us a lot of reflections and culture shocks, no matter whether it is wandering in the street or chitchat with a local friend. To know the living situation of local people is the most precious experience. That is also the fundamental of legal systems and other superstructures.
On the road, people are always smiling even to strangers like us. They are always ready to help. When we were nearly lost one day, a lady, whose left hand was disabled, found our difficulty in the crossroad and came to guide us on her own initiative. When we were crossing the street, cars would reduce speed from very far and always drivers let us go first. People are polite and think of other people first. From the kindness, we can feel the life attitude of pleasant and leisure. This is also related to high employment rate and social welfare system. Law students here don’t worry about their jobs after graduation, most of whom can find a good position for them. The unemployment rate is only 1% and laid-off people can receive subsidy from government for several years during which the government also help to arrange new jobs. Education and medical care are afforded by the country, high retirement pension will also be provided by the government.
Related to the welfare system is the high tax system in Norway. Average income here is 300000 Kr, and the individual income tax is about 30% and thus 200000 Kr is left. Price here is also very high together with 25% consumer tax rate. Here we need to spend 100 Kr on average for one meal. However, people here are very glad to accept all of these because they believe they enjoy very good public goods and social security. This system has fabulous interactions with other social factors. Gap between the poor and the rich is very small, people are quite equally in their social status. They are very active in public participation of political issues and as a result the public have great influence on politics (the population is an important role). Most of the arts in Oslo we saw express universal affections of human beings and labor work and daily life of common people, which reveal strong color of socialism or care for civilians. In contrast, the power of public authority is not that overwhelming. Power of imperials is slim, which can also be seen from the scale and decoration of imperial palace. Even modern authorities like national parliament and city hall have simple decoration. What is most impressive is that all citizens, in spite of income or status, should disclose their income and tax on net.
Before arriving Norway, we only knew from book that Norway is a country that promotes human right protection. After one week living here, we found that the sense of human right protection is not that far from us. It is not only a concept, not only an idea, not big words written on paper. It is a thinking way, it is a living style. It is in the people’s smiles to you, in your concerns for other people. It is mild, it is gentle, and you can only master it when you do it unconsciously. In Norway, we always feel the humanity in details. Law students induce humanity (such as the lowest living standard for debtor) into contracts, employers here design flexible working schedule for married women who may prefer to work only 50% or 80% so as to take care of family. Sometimes human right can be realized without fierce fights. It is realized at present, in details. In China, we have to establish systems to protect disadvantaged group, to fight against unfair phenomena by legal and political tools in one hand; in another hand, even fighters for human right should also make deep reflections that whether themselves really take “humanity” as a living style.
We were also honored to be invited by Andreas (JUSSBUSS student) family. His parents warmly prepared dinner for us and other JUSSBUSS students. Here we saw traditional Norwegian house and tasted local food, more important, we felt the sweet family atmosphere. We were so used to American living styles that we sometimes considered all western people were independent and didn’t enjoy family lives that much. But Norwegian family is really different. People here treasure traditional families, devote a lot of time maintaining family and raising children. Many families have two children or more. It is traditional here, it is sweet here. Modernization is not definitely contrast to tradition. We should preserve all good things from the past. Western world cannot be considered as a whole. Norway shows an amazing picture to us. When many people in China try every effort to cut the connection with past tradition, they should turn their eyes to Norway to see what is happening here.
Many professionals we visited this time worked in JUSSBUSS or similar institutes. For example, the director and staff in Norwegian Human Right Center, the judge in Oslo court and the dean of Oslo University Law School. The professional circle has been formed. We believe that students after experience in legal aid service etc. will consider more about public interest in their future positions. How to establish such circle and provide students such training opportunities, should be re-thought by us.
Part Five: Thoughts and Suggestions
We benefited from the visit, which has enabled us to learn a lot about the law education, the human rights situation, the legal system, history and culture etc. in Norway. While recalling this event, we also carry on a number of thinking from the point of how to better carry out the “Visiting Program between Peking University Law School and JUSSBUSS in Oslo University, Norway”, and try to offer some suggestions.
In the communication with Professor Jon T. Johnsen, the Dean of Oslo University Law School, and JUSSBUSS students, we have reached a consensus on conducting further cooperation and exchanges. The forms of cooperation include co-sponsoring the project of case discussion via e-mails, which reflects the both needs of exploring and researching on the legal, human rights, and other deep-seated problems. We also suggest the program consider selecting related themes and holding training camp or holidays practice for both Chinese and Norwegian students. They can make use of holidays to participate in training camp, and carry on practice in the other party’s agencies to form attachments. Through activities of case discussions, legal studies, society investigation etc., both the depth of mutual exchange and the development of human rights education and research, legal education, cultural dissemination, and other work are promoted.
When we introduced courses of Peking University legal clinic and relevant work of Legal Aid Association to the JUSSBUSS students, we found that Norwegian students lack understanding about Chinese grass-roots community, as well as the basic human rights and legal situations. Although some JUSSBUSS students have visited China, for China, with a large population and huge geographical differences, it is not enough to visit central cities only, like Beijing. In fact, for our part, the visit to relevant bodies in Oslo made us have a preliminary understanding of the situation in Norway, but just in regard to the operation of the grassroots community, we also lack intuitive understanding. Based on this situation, we propose to try developing the visit toward different region of two countries in the future development of exchanging projects, such as China‘s western region, the northern part of Norway, in order to achieve the purpose that the item promotes exchanges more completely. In addition, we can also think about sharing legal aid software, developing the Chinese version of the database system.