Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) director Terje Sjeggestad is shrugging off a move that could allow more asylum seeker children to remain in Norway.
The forthcoming government whitepaper, called ‘Barn på flukt’ (‘Children on the run’) contains no legislation changes. However, politicians ask the UNE, which gives a final decision on asylum applications, to take greater consideration to the children in cases where these have been refused.
Minister of Children, Equality, and Social Inclusion Inga Marte Thorkildsen has said she was “very pleased” about the move, which has also been greeted positively by Norway’s Organisation for Asylum Seekers (NOAS).
She declared it will “take greater account of (the some 450) children of asylum seekers who have been in Norway”, and, “that more children than at present will stay. Some children, who would otherwise have been sent out, will be granted residency. Moreover, anyone can ask the UNE to reconsider their case.”
Today, UNE director Terje Sjeggestad declares his organisation will not be looking upon asylum cases involving children any differently, and does not feel bound by the proposal.
“The government has chosen not to instruct the UNE about some new practices in the form in which the government can direct the UNE, namely, through legislative change,” he told NRK.
In response to criticism by minister Thorkildsen that officials have been too strict in their interpretation of the law, Mr Sjeggestad replied, “in keeping with parliament’s decision, political signals shall not be construed as directives.”
“We have certainly neither received any change of legislation, nor any notification that there will be any legislation change.”
“[...] I assume, therefore, that this means the government is mainly satisfied with the practice our decision makers have established,” he concluded, declaring, “there shouldn’t be any high hopes of a very radical change in practice that causes a very large number of additional children to stay.”
The Foreigner has asked for minister Thorkildsen’s reactions to Mr Sjeggestad’s apparent disregard of the new proposal, as well as how she views the proposal will lead to more children staying according to her earlier statement.
A ministry press spokesperson has redirected the enquiries to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security (formerly the Ministry of Justice and Police) following consultation with a political advisor.
No comment about making the whitepaper proposal more binding, or when this might take effect has yet been received from the Justice Ministry.