Published: 13 Apr 2012 10:21 GMT+02:00 | Print version
Updated: 13 Apr 2012 10:21 GMT+02:00
The Norwegian government plans to expel foreign beggars in a move intended to tackle human trafficking.
The government's proposal will be presented to parliament later this year.
Those found begging will be expelled regardless of whether they are EEA citizens and thus have the right to be in Norway, according to the Aftenposten daily. Furthermore, despite the measures, the government has no plans to ask parliament to criminalize the practice.
Justice minister Grete Faremo underlined specifically that begging will remain legal in Norway and that no distinction will be made between Norwegians and other nationalities.
"It can't be ruled out that there may be organized traffickers and trafficking involved behind begging," Faremo said to the newspaper.
The measures aimed at preventing foreigners from begging on the streets of Norwegian cities are part of a raft of 35 measures contained in the government's recent status report on the action plan against human trafficking.
The government plans to apply immigration law to expel foreigners for reasons of public order or security, but is also open to legal amendments.
"It is important for us to see if we need new rules to get at human trafficking. If the begging is organized, and people are being exploited, we are in a situation which is important for us to tackle," said Faremo.
Neither Oslo nor national police were willing to comment on the issue before having studied the status report.
Begging was previously banned in Norway, but was decriminalized when the Vagrancy Act was repealed in 2006. The following year Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union, and beggars from those countries started to arrive in Norway as tourists.