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Norway’s government loses vote over 'October children' asylum reassessments

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Norway’s government loses vote over 'October children' asylum reassessments
Immigration minister Sylvi Listhaug speaking in parliament. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix
16:29 CET+01:00
A parliamentary majority of 66 percent has voted in favour of the opposition Labour party’s proposal for rule changes which require certain asylum cases to be reassessed.

Acceptance of the proposal means that all cases of unaccompanied minors decided since October 1st 2016 will now be reassessed, including the so-called “October children” from Afghanistan who arrived in 2015 and had been slated for deportation due to reaching the age of 18.

Immigration minister Sylvi Listhaug reacted with scepticism after the government lost the parliamentary vote requiring reassessment of the cases of unaccompanied minors, reports NRK.

Asylum seekers whose cases are to be reassessed will not be deported until new decisions over their applications are reached.

Listhaug was critical of the outcome of the parliamentary vote.

“I have to say that I am surprised at the way parliament dealt with a complex issue like this,” she told NRK.

“Today parliament has made a decision on an issue [the rule change, ed.] that has not been through thorough assessment in the [immigration] Ministry, nor in the parliamentary committee. That is in spite of the fact that the issue has been discussed over a long period of time and that a proposal has already been submitted to the committee,” she said.

The Labour proposal relates to a change in rules relating to under-age asylum seekers that arrive in Norway unaccompanied and are given so-called temporary residence (midlertidig opphold).

The proposal changes the way in which young asylum seekers’ cases are assessed, putting more emphasis on ‘vulnerability’ (sårbarhet).

This particularly affects the cases of those who would be returned to a different region of a country to where they are from – effectively deporting them to internal displacement, NRK reported on Monday night.

Labour has previously stated its opposition to a proposal by other parties to freeze all deportations to Afghanistan.

The reassessments must be carried out individually and will not necessarily result in all being granted asylum, according to the NRK's report.

Labour deputy leader Trond Giske told the broadcaster that around 200 to 300 people would have their cases reviewed as a result of the parliamentary vote, but that the number who would see a reversal of their decision depends on the assessment of the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

READ ALSO: Norway ministers advise against freeze on Afghan deportations

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