The 22 July Commission held a press conference an hour after Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg received its report, Monday.
Secretary of the ten-strong Commission Bjørn Otto Sverdrup opened the conference with a photograph taken from the Government quarters after the bomb had exploded on 22 July 2011. It was striking and stood as a reminder of the intensity of the Committee’s work.
Mr Sverdrup explained that the report was “over 500 pages long, covered in 19 chapters and 5 sections”. He confirmed that the report is now available online (external link, in Norwegian).
The report opens with the aim of the Committee: “Every day for a whole year, we have worked together to find answers to three key questions: What happened on 22 July? Why did it happen? And more fundamentally, how could our society have let this happen?”
Commission leader Alexandra Bech Gjørv detailed that the report had six main recommendations. The in-depth review concludes the following:
- The attack on 22 July could have been prevented through effective implementation of already adopted security measures.
- The authorities' ability to protect the people on Utøya failed. A more rapid police operation was a realistic possibility. The perpetrator could have been stopped earlier on 22 July.
- More security and emergency preparedness measures to impede new attacks and mitigate the adverse effects should have been implemented on 22 July.
- The health and rescue services managed to take care of the injured people and next-of-kin during the acute phase in a satisfactory manner.
- The Government's communication with the general public was good. The ministries managed to continue their work despite the devastation.
- The Police Security Service (PST) could have got on the trail of Anders Behring Breivik sooner if it had employed better ways of working and a broader focus. However, the Commission stated it had no reason to concluded whether the PST thus could and should have prevented an attack.
Alexandra Bech Gjørv said that Norway was a nation that was “gathered together in grief" on 22 July. As leader of the Commission, she said that the findings of the report determined that the events of terror on 22 July could have been averted.
The Police received a damming report of their actions and mobilisation, concluding that they could have arrived at Utøya 12 minutes earlier if they had followed the contingency plan, which they failed to do. A whole chapter is dedicated in the report to the helicopter, and the failure to use transport of the armed forces that was stationed nearby and would have been of assistance to police.
Bech Gjørv also said that, “those involved had an intellectual understanding of what they needed to do (to avoid terror attacks) but they could not physically put themselves in that situation. It was never a question of money.”
“The failures of 22 July were mainly due to the insufficient ability to acknowledge risk and learn from exercises,” she added in the report.
The document consists of 31 recommendations in total and places responsibility for the events of the day firmly with those in “a position of leadership”.
A press conference with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Minister for Justice and Emergency planning, Grete Faremo, followed at 15.30.
One Norwegian member of the public told The Foreigner his reaction to today’s report was that “the police in this country are an incompetent and lying bunch, it would seem. I’m utterly shocked by their smoke-screening measures.”
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