Integration Minister Sylvi Listhaug. Photo: Henrik Montgomery / TT / NTB scanpix
The Norwegian government has secured a parliamentary majority for a plan that will allow police to jail would-be refugees who have no legitimate asylum claim.
Under the plan, asylum seekers whose case is viewed as “obviously groundless” could be jailed while their claim is fast-tracked under Norway’s so-called ’48-hour procedure’. That measure, put in place in January 2004, calls for migrants arriving from what the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) to have their asylum applications processed and rejected within two days.
Integration Minister Sylvi Listhaug is now proposing that migrants would no legitimate asylum claim should be jailed while their cases are processed.
“We can see that unfounded asylum seekers disappear while the police are processing their applications. This will prohibit them from running off and eventually getting involved in criminal activity. Now we will now where we have them, get their applications processed and then return them,” Listhaug told broadcaster NRK.
Listhaug said that 90 of the 537 asylum seekers whose cases were processed under the 48-hour procedure in 2015 disappeared.
“Of those, we don’t know where 90 percent of them are and thus we also haven’t sent them out [of the country],” she said.
Listhaug’s plan is backed by the Liberal Party (Venstre) and the Christian Democrats (Kristelig Folkeparti), assuring the government of a parliamentary majority.
The Norwegian Bar Association (Advokatforeningen) is among the critics of the plan, saying that it could scare off those who have legitimate asylum claims.
But Listhaug said that the Norwegian government is fully within its rights to temporarily jail migrants who clearly don’t qualify for asylum.
“When you are a unfounded asylum seeker and come from a country that makes it obvious that you don’t need protection, and you fall under the 48-hour procedure, then we think that there are plenty of reasons to give police this possibility,” she told NRK.
Under the proposal, asylum seekers can be imprisoned for up to 72 hours.