6 March 2015

Norway’s current legislation and practice of detaining families with children violates the Norwegian Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights, the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. That is the conclusion of a new report on detention of asylum-seeking children, launched by the Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers (NOAS).

The report argues that the lack of specific provisions on the detention of children in Norway’s Immigration Act contradicts the principle of legal clarity and the obligation to treat children as individuals. It also finds that Norway discriminates against children detained for migration purposes. For instance, while other children cannot be detained for more than two weeks in Norway, this safeguard is not always applied to migrant children. The report recommends that families with children should only be detained as a last resort, for a maximum of 72 hours and only in returns proceedings. It further argues for increased support from child welfare experts while children are being detained and before they are forcibly returned.

The report finds that assisted return is the best alternative to immigration detention in Norway as 87% of detained asylum seekers were forcibly returned to their country of origin in 2013 and 2014, and the number of forced returns of asylum seekers is now also larger than the number who chose assisted return.

330 children were detained in Norway in 2014.