Young refugees won’t be returned

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Norway has temporarily halted its controversial return of young refugees who arrive in Norway alone after first seeking asylum in another European country. A government spokesman said it was important for Norway to adapt to other European practices.

Minors seeking asylum will now get their applications handled in Norway, even if they’d already sought asylum in other countries as well. Advocates for the young refugees are already demanding that Norway make the practice permanent, not just temporary.

‘Step in the right direction’
“This is a very big step in the right direction for the young people involved,” Janne Olise Raanes of Norway’s chapter of Save the Children (Redd Barna) told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Friday. “It means that they will get a good and thorough review of their cases in Norway, and we’re very happy about that.”

Norway has been returning these minors to the first European country where they were registered. The European Court of Human Rights, however, recently ruled that Norway’s practice of returning the young asylum seekers was illegal, and Norwegian authorities are now going along.

A justice ministry spokesman told NRK, however, that government authorities will examine the consequences of the changed practice before deciding on its permanence. There currently are 66 young persons in Noway who now may be allowed to stay, given the halt to returns.

‘No final clarification’
Arild Humlen, an attorney who represents asylum seekers, called on Norwegian politicians to take full responsibility for abiding by the European court ruling.

“This is no final clarification of the problem,” Humlen told NRK. “But those who are in Norway now, and have their applications up for review, will get a thorough evaluation here.”

He said that Norway’s parliament has been “unusually perplexed” over the issue of young refugees alone in Norway, and claimed it was time they recognized their rights. “I want to see better rules regarding these minors’ rights within the immigration law,” Humlen said.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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