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Norway’s Listhaug hints at major restructure of asylum system

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Norway’s Listhaug hints at major restructure of asylum system
Sylvi Listhaug. Photo: Gorm Kallestad / NTB scanpix
16:19 CEST+02:00
Norwegian minister for immigration Sylvi Listhaug has said that the way asylum applications are processed could undergo a comprehensive restructuring.

The opposition Labour Party has questioned the legality of the proposals, writes news agency NTB.

Listhaug’s proposal constitutes housing all newly-arrived asylum seekers in a single accommodation facility, according to a report by the Aftenposten newspaper.

Eight of ten asylum seekers will have their cases resolved while still housed at the facility, should the idea become reality.

The aim would be to accommodate all asylum seekers at a centre in Østfold County in a building formerly known as Smart Club, which was converted to an asylum centre in 2015.

Eight out of ten asylum applications for people living at the centre would be processed within three weeks of their arrival, according to the proposal, which is based upon what Norway’s Directorate of Immigration (Utlendingsdirektoratet, UDI) considers a realistic target, according to the report.

The Østfold centre would have a capacity of 1,000, with facilities covering the needs of residents for the short periods they would be expected to stay there.

Listhaug told Aftenposten that the restructuring of asylum accommodation and processing would have significant benefits.

“Reduced centre costs, better quality application processing, faster return [deportation of rejected applicants, ed.] and not least faster settlement and integration,” Listhaug told Aftenposten.

“Those who are rejected will be immediately deported from the country, ideally directly from the asylum centre. Those who are granted asylum will go straight into an integration programme, potentially directly to a municipality for relocation,” the minister added.

Norway’s opposition Labour Party said that it supported a number of the stated goals of the proposal but was uncertain with regard to whether it respected rule of law.

“We can support several of the intentions, such as efficient application processing of asylum seekers, fast integration and fast relocation,” Labour’s spokesperson for immigration Stein Erik Lauvås told NTB.

“But we have a number of questions, including regarding legal rights of asylum seekers. How will these be respected?”, Lauvås said.

Listhaug must also explain how a capacity of 1,000 can be achieved at the Østfold centre, the spokesperson added.

“That is a lot of people. The centre at Østfold is big, but not that big,” he said.

Labour will present Listhaug with its questions should she choose to bring the proposal before parliament, Lauvås told NTB.

READ ALSO: Norwegian asylum centres capacity to be reduced by further 1,600

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