The leader of a movement to rectify the nation’s labeling on Norwegian residency cards on Saturday vowed to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, after the Norwegian Supreme Court on Tuesday last week turned down their appeal against a lower court’s ruling.
The initiator of the “Taiwan: My Name, My Right” student movement, an Oslo-based lawyer who identifies himself as Joseph, said that he never thought the court would be unwilling to grant the petitioners even the most basic of procedural rights.
The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration has since 2010 labeled Taiwanese residents as being from Kina — the Norwegian word for China — on their residency cards.
Students in 2017 petitioned the agency to change the designation, but the directorate dismissed the appeal on the grounds that “such designation does not affect the interested party’s rights and obligations in Norway.”
The group then launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring the issue to court, raising NT$3.23 million (US$112,114 at the current exchange rate) by the time it closed on Sept. 30, 2018.
They hired lawyers and in August last year brought the case to the Oslo District Court.
After losing the first trial on April 28, two subsequent appeals were also dismissed on Sept. 11 and last week.
In each instance, judges rejected the case, saying that the plaintiffs had “no grounds for appeal.”
The group said that it has the right to a fair trial, to remediation and to privacy, among other rights, as the nationality designation does not accord with reality.
The Supreme Court has declined to comment on the case, only saying that “the Appeals Committee finds it unanimously clear that the appeal cannot proceed.”
The group in its original crowdfunding campaign had raised the possibility of appealing to the European Court of Human Rights if the suit failed within Norway’s three-tier appeal system.
Norway was a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that litigants have the right to appeal to the court within six months of exhausting the signatory’s appeal system.
The group said that it would hire more lawyers and strive to build a solid legal team before the trial.
“Leaving Norway is a brand-new start,” the group wrote on Facebook.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday expressed “deep regret” at the court’s decision, saying it was “gravely concerned” about its failure to explain its reasoning or offer the students any form of remediation.
The issue involves the litigants’ right to identity, and therefore possesses substantive legal interest, it said.
It said it has instructed the nation’s representative office in Sweden to lodge a complaint with the Norwegian government.
Beijing often uses economic means to coerce governments and businesses into bending to its will and minimizing Taiwan’s status, raising concern among the international community, the ministry said.
For example, after Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, Beijing halted imports of salmon from Norway, the world’s biggest producer, it said.
Taiwan last year began holding annual human rights consultations with the EU to bring issues such as the Norway case to the group’s attention, the ministry said, adding that it hopes to continue formal negotiations on the issue and keep seeking partnerships with like-minded nations.
Taiwan is Taiwan, and is not a part of the People’s Republic of China, the ministry said, adding that the case is an important question of human rights.
It said it would continue to help the affected students fight for their rights, including at the European Court of Human Rights.
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