Reparations in Norway

It has been revealed today (9 April 2015) that Norway will be paying reparations to Roma communities for the racist policies that led to their exclusion before and after the Second World War. This will accompanied by a full apology on behalf of the Norwegian government and is the result of campaigns led by Roma groups since the 1990s. Their campaigns have sought compensation for policies that led to the refusal of the Norwegian government to allow members of the Roma community to re-enter the country. This policy resulted in the deaths of at least 62 people who subsequently held in Nazi concentration camps, and has been defined by the prime minister as a “racist exclusion policy“. Norway’s willingness to engage with this particular part of its history is an important step towards achieving reparative justice for those who suffered as a result of its institutional decisions. The question remains, however, as to whether similar steps will now be taken by the Norwegian government, as well as other European governments, in the wake of Caricom’s calls for the forming slaving nations (which include Norway) to engage with reparations for slavery. Norway has so far remained silent on the matter. Government responses on these issues tend to be slow and are largely dependent on favourable socio-political circumstances. However, a positive response to one campaign should serve to legitimise another. It remains to be seen whether this will be the case for those campaigning for reparations for slavery.