Alternative report to the un human Rights Committee regarding Norway’s sixth Periodic report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights December 2010



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When considering cases of asylum and humanitarian protection the Norwegian immigration authorities do generally not make use of UN human rights bodies` concluding observations among their sources of information. Among the many different sources quoted in such decisions we are not aware of references to concluding observations, which at least indicates that concluding observations are highly underutilised as sources.

Concluding observations contain relevant information regarding possible risks of human rights violation in nearly every country of the world. The observations are results of a dialogue between the human rights bodies and Member States. There have been possibilities for Member States to refute allegations by NGOs, UN special procedures or other Member States. The basis of the concluding observations may therefore be better than reports by Norwegian authorities which have not been through such a contradictive process. When a UN human rights body following a contradictive process concludes that there are concrete concerns regarding certain provisions of a human rights treaty, this should be an important information source also for the Norwegian authorities when considering a case where the individual alleges risks of violation of the same provision. Although lawyers have called attention to this, the concluding observations of UN human rights treaty bodies are still not at the list of sources used by the Norwegian immigration authorities. It may therefore be likely that possible risks of violation of human rights have not been thoroughly considered and that persons have under such risks have been deported by Norwegian authorities.



Recommendation to Norway:

Concluding observations of UN human rights treaty bodies should be systematically taken into account by Norwegian Immigration authorities.

ICCPR Art.

Subject

State Report para.

Keyword

7

Asylum procedures


105

Application on Dublin II and the nuclear family

Norway indicates that nuclear family connection gives exception from Dublin II returns. This is not always applied. In at least one case, Norway has split the nuclear family. In that case, NGOs in Norway have reported that a wife and small children were returned under the Dublin II regulation, while the husband received asylum in Norway16.

Recommendation to Norway:

When returning asylum seekers to other countries under the Dublin II regulation, Norway should safeguard that members of nuclear families under no circumstances are separated from each other as a consequence thereof.

ICCP Art.

Subject

State Report para.

Keyword

7

Asylum: Dublin II


104-108

Returning applicants to Greece without dealing with the a asylum claim

Under the Dublin II regulation Norway has returned asylum applicants to the first country of entry without dealing with the merits of the application, even to Greece, whose asylum procedures clearly do not provide the legal security foreseen in international refugee law, with the ultimate risk of refoulement.

In 2008 NGO-reporting lead to a temporary halt in such returns to Greece, but the government defended the returns and later instructed a recommencement. UNHCR has several times reiterated its recommendation to Norway not to send asylum seekers back to Greece under the Dublin II regulation, and has recently called the conditions for asylum seekers “a humanitarian crisis”17. Norwegian NGOs have consistently asked all returns to Greece to be stopped.

In a Grand Board decision on 1 February 2010, concerning transfers to Greece, all members but one accepted that Greece had a satisfactory asylum procedure. Only an edited version of the decision is made public by the Immigration Appeal Board but other sources inform that the Grand Board bases heavily its factual assessments on the report of a government official working at the Norwegian Consulate. The report has obvious shortcomings and misrepresentations, as both previous and subsequent reports from NGOs, UNHCR and the Council of Europe18 demonstrate19.

In October 2010, Norwegian authorities decided to suspend all returns to Greece while awaiting a judgement from the European Court of Human Rights in a case regarding an asylum seeker returned to Greece from Belgium. The Grand Chamber of the Court has under consideration a relevant case filed against Belgium20. Applicants who are still in the asylum process, and who previously would have been returned to Greece, will have their asylum claims assessed by Norwegian authorities. It is still not decided what will happen to applicants who have received a final negative decision, but still resides in Norway.



We recommend to the Committee to ask Norway:


  • about it’s current practice at the time of the examination of returning asylum-seekers to Greece;




  • whether Norway will return asylum seekers to countries which will realistically not fulfill its obligations towards asylum seekers in accordance with the 1951 Refugee Convention; and

  • whether Norway recognizes an obligation to carefully scrutinize whether the “expectation that other member states comply with their international obligations, e.g. UN’s Refugee Convention” (quoted from the State Party report para. 104.) corresponds with the actual facts on the ground or not; and if so, what bearing this will have on returning asylum seekers to Greece for consideration of their asylum claims.

Recommendations to Norway:

- To adopt a policy where the Dublin Regulation is not subject to the instruction of the Ministry, its application should be guided by legal principles.

- The practice of return to Greece has discovered troubling in relation to application of facts on norms, and Norway should adapt regulation that ensures legal security.

- Norway should advocate among other European countries for responsibility sharing in situations where a member state does not have the resources or will to fulfill their international obligations regarding people seeking asylum.


ICCPR Art.

Subject

State Report para.

Keyword

7
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