Welcome to Norway. Might asylum seekers now be spending time in Oslo prison? Photo: Gorm Kallestad / NTB scanpix
Norway's justice minister has announced plans to jail asylum seekers if they do not have a good enough reason to seek refuge in Norway.
Anders Anundsen, a senior member of the anti-immigration Progress Party, said that a three-day spell in prison would send “an important signal” to would-be immigrants abusing the asylum system to gain entry to Norway.
“What we are sending out for consultation now is a proposal that the cases of asylum seekers who deliver manifestly unfounded asylum applications can be processed with an expeditious procedure lasting two days, and that they also be detained pending proceedings,” Anundsen told Norway's state broadcaster NRK
The new proposal, which was sent out for consultation on Friday, proposes jailing those whose asylum applications are obviously unjustified for up to 72 hours.
“As we have it today, people come into the country and then disappear straight away,” he said. “By the time their asylum applications are rejected, you can no longer find these individuals.”
The Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers (NOAS) condemned the proposal.
“You cannot imprison someone just because they want a better future in Norway,” Andreas Furuseth, the group's legal advisor, told NRK. “To imprison someone is a highly intrusive measure, and such measures must be used with caution.”
Anundsen said that with Norwegian prisons facing a serious shortage of capacity, it might be necessary for the asylum seekers to be housed in Norway's Trandum Immigration Detention Centre rather than in a standard prison.