Asylum deportations dog Norway Justice Minister / News / The Foreigner

Asylum deportations dog Norway Justice Minister. Anders Anundsen takes another hit over the issue amongst warnings of repercussions over Norway’s continued deportations of minors to Afghanistan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan sent a memo to Norwegian officials protesting about the matter in October 2014. Justice Minister Anders Anundsen had already increased forced asylum seeker returns severalfold by that time. Afghan officials expressed grave concerns about the policy, writing that several factors in the country were “an undeniable fact.” These were: terrible security conditions, economic circumstances, unemployment, as well as lack of shelter and education possibilities.

asylum, children, refuge, sanctuary, politics



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Asylum deportations dog Norway Justice Minister

Published on Friday, 30th January, 2015 at 02:00 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Sarah Bostock   .

Anders Anundsen takes another hit over the issue amongst warnings of repercussions over Norway’s continued deportations of minors to Afghanistan.

Anders Anundsen, Justice Minister
Anders Anundsen, Justice Minister
Photo: Ministry of Justice/Flickr


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan sent a memo to Norwegian officials protesting about the matter in October 2014. Justice Minister Anders Anundsen had already increased forced asylum seeker returns severalfold by that time.

Afghan officials expressed grave concerns about the policy, writing that several factors in the country were “an undeniable fact.” These were: terrible security conditions, economic circumstances, unemployment, as well as lack of shelter and education possibilities.

Also mentioned was no suitable environment for children’s early life or for securing their interests otherwise. Moreover, officials stated in their letter that Bergens Tidende has published that they are concerned this might inflict harm on them.

They ask that Norwegian authorities take the situation in Afghanistan into account prior to deportation, and consider commuting this into voluntary return. Officials underline that deportees will be refused entry at the border.

“We don’t have issues regarding those who return voluntarily. The problem arises when so many are deported against their will, and especially when many of these [people] are women and children. This figure rose sharply last autumn, we’ve given our opinion on this matter already,” said Ghulam Murtaza Rasooli, director of legal affairs advisor at the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations (MoRR).

Doubts

Norway, Afghanistan, and the UNHCR (United High Commissioner for Refugees) signed a tripartite MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) regarding voluntary returns in 2011.

The agreement regards the European Return Platform for Unaccompanied Minors (ERPUM). ERPUM sets out plans for returning minors with a final rejection of their asylum application, but who have families in Afghanistan. 

The year before the tripartite MoU signing, Human Rights Watch (HRW) sent a letter to the Norwegian Ministry of Children, Equality, and Social Inclusion. They urged officials to defer what they considered hasty returns of migrant children.

HRW staff stated that they note that the government was preparing the return of unaccompanied migrant children to institutions in their countries of origin.

“We understand that these plans include unaccompanied children who were not granted international protection but originate from war-affected countries, such as Afghanistan, Somalia, and Iraq.”

“We have serious doubts that the return of children to countries with unstable or even deteriorating security situations, and where local child protection services do not exist, presents a durable solution for these children or would be in their best interest,” the letter reads.

Temporarily flummoxed

Disclosure of the Afghan memo has prompted differing reactions. Thursday morning’s edition of state broadcaster NRK’s radio programme, ‘Politisk kvarter’, heard Deputy Justice Minister Jøran Kallmyr remark that “I’ve only seen a facsimile of the letter in Aftenposten today, and the letter is in Afghan.”

“I don’t know what’s written in it,” he said, later reiterating to Aftenposten that the letter was in Persian, stating that this is a language that he does not speak. At the same time, he acknowledged that the Ministry had received a letter.

“That’s why I’ve said that I must look into whether we’ve received it. We’ve only received an English-language version of this letter. This doesn’t mean that the contents were unknown, but I couldn’t know whether we’ve received it or not from the Persian version,” added Deputy Minister Kallmyr.

Norwegian Minister of Justice Anders Anundsen had not mentioned the protest memo when he was called to account to parliament about mismanagement of the child deportations matter.

The high number of these was because “a return opportunity arose”, according to him.

Earlier this month, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs opted for a hearing on the issue. This is scheduled for 6th February.

Liberal Party (V) politician Abid Q. Raja MP, a Committee member, called events surrounding the memo and the Ministry of Justice “surprising”.

“I’m slightly shocked that the Minister or the Deputy Minister of Justice apparently cannot say that they did not know anything about this in today’s media reports. They either have no control over what happens in their own Ministry, or they let it slide. Alternatively, incompetence reigns. Everything must now be put on the table,” Mr Raja declared.

A wall of silence

Martin Kolberg MP, leader of the Committee for the Labour Party (Ap), does not accept the Ministry of Justice’s explanation.

“It’s obvious they are aware of the memo’s contents. Nevertheless, both the Minister of Justice and Prime Minister [Erna Solberg] have only informed parliament that “a return opportunity arose”,” he said.

“This information isn’t 100 per cent correct. It’s now imperative that we get a report as to how they have handled the memo.”

“I must say, it’s pretty serious,” commented Geir Bekkevold MP, Christian Democrat (KrF) representative on parliament’s Standing Committee on Family and Cultural Affairs.

“Somebody’s really made a pig’s ear of things if Afghan authorities are considering resigning from the [tripartite] return agreement, if it’s really the case that people have been returned and so many forcibly so.”

Bergens Tidende reports this evening that officials in Afghanistan have decided that they do not wish to accept more asylum seeker minors from Norway and instigate changes in the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding).

Revisions and alterations can take place once-a-year, and the MoU can also be terminated by either party with one month’s notice.

“Our standpoint is that vulnerable groups such as children, women, the elderly, and those who are ill should no longer be covered by the agreement,” said Ghulam Murtaza Rasooli, director of legal affairs advisor at the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations (MoRR).



Published on Friday, 30th January, 2015 at 02:00 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Sarah Bostock   .

This post has the following tags: asylum, children, refuge, sanctuary, politics.





  
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