• Norway's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Norway under fire over tough new asylum plans
Integration Minister Sylvi Listhaug. Photo: Håkon Larsen/NTB Scanpix

Norway under fire over tough new asylum plans

AFP · 30 Dec 2015, 11:33

Published: 30 Dec 2015 11:33 GMT+01:00

Minister of Migration and Integration Sylvi Listhaug presented 40 new restrictions to the country’s immigration rules on Tuesday. 

The planned changes are based on an agreement reached by parliament in November to reduce numbers of refugees reaching the Scandinavian nation. A total of 35,358 asylum seekers arrived in Norway in this year, compared with 11,480 in 2014.

A continued increase in asylum seekers could have “devastating consequences” for Norwegian society, according to Listhaug, who is a member of the anti-immigration Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet).

The proposals include tighter rules on family reunification and a minimum period of five years before permanent residence is granted, an increase from the previous three years. Underage asylum seekers under 18 will also have their cases reassessed when they turn 18, and the bar for refugees’ language and cultural understanding requirements will be set higher.

Police will deport rejected asylum seekers more quickly and the right to appeal will be restricted.

The Norwegian government has also announced that it wants to turn away refugees crossing the border from Sweden.

“This will provide motivation to make an effort to learn Norwegian and find work for those who want to be here,” said Listhaug at a press conference on Tuesday.

But the proposals have met with criticism from politicians from the government coalition’s supporting parties, who voted for the move towards stricter asylum rules in November.

“The aim of the asylum agreement was to prevent unjustified asylum seekers from straining the overloaded system, because that is bad for those who need protection. But Listhaug’s proposals are problematic and will leave men, women and children who have left their homes and have real need for protection without the help they need,” MP André Skjelstad of the Liberal (Venstre) party said to NRK.

“We support [efforts to stop unnecessary asylum], but there is a good deal missing and we are critical and have concerns about the integration aspect [of the proposal], Geir Sigbjørn Toskedal of the Christian People’s Party told NRK.

Skjelstad also raised concerns about the effects of the new measures on integration.

“Listhaug is not using the right methods. She ought to be making sure that we enable more people to be active earlier than we do currently, by allowing them to work with and without pay. We know that this works,” Skjelstad said.

Story continues below…

The Norwegian Association for Asylum Seekers (NOAS) was strongly critical of the proposals, suggesting they may break international law.

“At worst, this is a break with international law and will force people to travel home and be subjected to the dangers that [international] resolutions are supposed to protect them from,” Senior Legal Adviser with NOAS, Andreas Furuseth, was quoted as saying by NRK.

The proposals will undergo a six-week “hearing” period, during which time they are available to the public, before being negotiated and finalized in parliament.

 

For more news from Norway, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Today's headlines
Mass brawl breaks out at Norway asylum centre
The Forus asylum centre in Stavanger. Photo: Carina Johansen / NTB scanpix

A rejected asylum seeker was arrested early on Tuesday after a fight involving up to 20 people.

Brit held for throwing pie at Norway's equality minister
The woman accepted the court's judgement but denied having planned the pie attack. Photo: Erik Fosheim Brandsborg / NTB scanpix

A British woman will be held on remand for for weeks for attacking Norwegian Equality Minister Solveig Horne with a cream pie.

Brexit
Iceland president: Brexit is good news for Norway
Iceland president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, shown here in 2008. Photo: Kyrre Lien/NTB Scanpix

Iceland's long-time president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson says that Brexit can give Norway and other northern countries a more important role.

Oslo court rejects Edward Snowden lawsuit
Edward Snowden speaking via satellite as he received the Bjornson prize in September. Photo: Svein Ove Ekornesvåg / NTB scanpix

The Oslo District Court on Monday rejected American whistleblower Edward Snowden’s lawsuit to prevent his potential extradition.

Video
VIDEO: Norwegians set world record for largest bonfire
The bonfire was measured at 47.4 metres. Photo: Runar Andersen / NTB scanpix

See stunning video of the world's tallest bonfire going up in flames as Norway celebrated midsummer.

Brexit - Opinion
Norwegian in London: 'Brexit is dreadful for the UK's unity'
Commuters cross the London Bridge on Friday. Photo: DANIEL SORABJI/Scanpix

Welsh-Norwegian reporter Sunniva Davies-Rommetveit writes that Brexit leaves her fearing a new isolationist UK.

Norway enjoys one of world's 'best reputations'
Despite a fall from second, Norway still enjoys one of the world's best reputations. Photo: Vegard Wivestad Grøtt / NTB scanpix

Norway tumbled three spots in a new report ranking the most reputable countries in the world.

Brexit
Norway PM: EU should heed Brexit ‘warning’
People walk past a "Vote Leave" sign as they arrive to vote in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Thursday. Photo: Paul Faith/Scanpix

Erna Solberg said on Friday morning that she is worried about the knock-off political consequences of Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

Rain threatens Norway's Sankthans celebrations
According to the forecast, this year's Sankthans celebrations won't be quite as nice as last year. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

Norwegians may have a hard time lighting their Sankthans bonfires, as the weekend calls for damp conditions throughout the country, particularly in the south.

Surprise! Norway not priciest place for food in Europe
Filling your cart in a Norwegian supermarket costs 159 percent of the EU average. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix

... but it is for booze and tobacco.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Norway's ‘biggest sovereignty concession’ to EU in years
National
Norway makes ‘biggest sovereignty concession’ to EU in years
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Norway boosts defence against Russia threat
International
Norway boosts defence against Russia threat
FACT-CHECK: No, Norway isn’t banning diesel and petrol cars
National
FACT-CHECK: No, Norway isn’t banning diesel and petrol cars – yet
Norway aims to be climate-neutral by 2030
National
Norway aims to be climate-neutral by 2030
Migrant numbers plunge as Norway now 'less attractive'
National
Migrant numbers plunge as Norway now 'less attractive'
Society
Record number of kids mark Norway's National Day
Take a ride on Norway's most spectacular road
Travel
Take a ride on Norway's most spectacular road
All 13 on board die in Norway helicopter crash
National
All 13 on board die in Norway helicopter crash
National
Norway violated mass murderer's human rights: court
Modern-day Norwegian Viking conquers Instagram
Lifestyle
Modern-day Norwegian Viking conquers Instagram
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Global protests condemn 'legal kidnapping' in Norway
National
Global protests condemn 'legal kidnapping' in Norway
Norway to allow gay church weddings
Society
Church of Norway to allow same-sex weddings
'No means no': Norway sends migrants on anti-rape courses
National
'No means no': Norway sends migrants on anti-rape courses
For first time, majority in Norway don’t believe in God
Society
For first time, majority in Norway don’t believe in God
Norway preps 'breakthrough' on gender change
Health
Norway preps 'breakthrough' on gender change
Breivik says he'll fight 'to the death' for Nazism
National
Breivik says he'll fight 'to the death' for Nazism
2,021
jobs available