A whole 12 percent of Norwegians were found to believe that it was okay to torture prisoners of war in order to obtain "important military information" in a survey conducted on behalf of Red Cross Norway. The Norwegian survey was completed as part of a major research project by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in which people from 16 countries, including Afghanistan, Sudan and Switzerland, were asked about their attitudes on a variety of topics ranging from the Geneva Convention on protection of civilians and POWs to plain torture, such as the deprivation of food, medication and water.
"This is discouraging and deeply regrettable that so many believe torture to acceptable. It also shows that we still have a big job to do, Secretary General of Red Cross Norway Bernt Apeland told Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, calling the statistics "disturbing."
Additionally, a total of 13 percent of respondents argued that attacks against hospitals, ambulances and health workers in order to weaken the enemy are "part of warfare."
"It has never been more dangerous to be an aid worker in war or conflict than today. We just have to continue the job of informing the population of the international law, and explain why it is like this. It's about non-combatants' right to be protected, even in the midst of war," Apeland said.
Despite the fact that Norway proved to be noticeably less tolerant to the use of torture than the average of the 16 countries surveyed (with 36 percent approving torture as an acceptable instrument to obtain important military information), the survey brought many unpleasant issues to the surface, which Norway would rather keep under the carpet.
Despite being a fervent opponent of torture as such and the inhumane interrogation methods at Guantanamo prison in particular, Norway itself played an important role in the ethically questionable issue.
Earlier, the Norwegian Oil Fund, which is the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, was found to have invested in the Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), a firm involved in some of the worst human rights abuses in the US "War on Terror." The multi-national IT and security company, which Norway partnered with for over a decade, arranged illegal rendition flights for the CIA between 2003 and 2006. The detainees were transported to secret prisons, where they were tortured, Norwegian newspaper Klassekampen reported. This stands in stark contrast to the Oil Fund's own ethical guidelines.
Additionally, the Norwegian chapter of Amnesty International found the Norwegian company Kværner to have through its activities at Guantanamo contributed to torture and other human rights violations. Its American sub-company Kværner Process Services Inc was present at Guantanamo from 1993 to 2006 and had as many as 600 employees working there. The company contributed in the building of prison cells and provided maintenance, including the delivery of electricity and water and the facilitation of sewage services from the camp. According to the contracts Kværner signed, these operations were part of the US international struggle against terrorism, Norwegian newspaper Bergenavisen reported.
Finally, Norway's own penitentiary system has repeatedly come under fire from the European Committee for Prevention of Torture (CPT) for its use of solitary confinement in Norwegian prisons.
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