21 February 2014
A new study by the Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers has revealed that asylum seekers arriving in Norway today are more likely than ever before to end up in detention instead of receiving proper support and care, following policy changes adopted in 2008 and 2012.
The report underlines that asylum seekers who enter Norway in an irregular manner are often penalised with fines, imprisonment or both. This practice violates Article 31 (I) of the Refugee Convention and NOAS recommends that Norway should implement the exemption from penalisation required by the Refugee Convention through the direct incorporation of this principle both into the Immigration Act and the Penal Code. The study also refers to practice in Finland, Denmark and the UK.
Although Norwegian legislation provides for two alternatives to detention – an obligation to report and an obligation to stay in a specific place – NOAS highlights that relevant statistics on the frequency of use of these alternatives are incomplete and therefore there are questions regarding to which extent they are used in practice.
Furthermore, NOAS recommends the maximum allowed period of detention of 18 months to be lowered.
The report also includes elements where Norway goes above the safeguards guaranteed under international law, such as automatic judicial review. The legality of detention is in each case examined by a court automatically, normally within 24 hours.