An Oslo court ruling on Friday set aside the controversial deportation of 12-year-old Neda Ibrahim and her family, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to return to Norway. The court found their deportation order to be invalid, but the immigration authorities behind it say they may simply issue a new order addressing the court’s concerns.
Norwegian media outlets were quick on Friday to report that the family, whose case has received widespread coverage in Norway, could now return to Norway after being deported to Jordan in June. The head of the family’s support group in Norway, Heidi Bjerga, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the family had won “a full victory” and she called Neda in Jordan to tell her so.
“I’m super happy that we can come back to Norway,” Neda told NRK herself, “but I wonder if it (the court ruling) will be appealed.”
The immigration authorities haven’t decided whether they’ll appeal, but claimed nonetheless in a press release that “the family has no right to come back before UNE (the control authority for immigration agency UDI) has issued a new order that would grant them residence permission.”
UNE acknowledged that their earlier order for the family’s deportation was set aside by the court, but only because “it wasn’t clear enough that the health condition of the (family’s) oldest son had been evaluated by UNE.”
If the ruling stands, then UNE must issue a new order. “The new order could reject the family’s asylum application once again or grant them residence permission,” claims UNE. Its director, Ingunn-Sofie Aursnes, said she and her colleagues needed to read through the court ruling and then make a decision on an eventual appeal.
The Ibrahim case has featured heavily in Norwegian media because it illustrates the plight of refugee children, many of whom have been born or grown up in Norway. If their parents ultimately lose their bids for asylum, the children are generally deported as well, even if they’ve lived in Norway all their lives. It’s been argued that the parents use their children as a means of winning sympathy for their cause, while others argue the children should be entitled to amnesty.
The Ibrahim family’s attorney, Arild Humlen, believes they now should be allowed to return, countering UNE’s position. The court ruling itself, however, determined that the deportation hadn’t violated the family’s human rights.
“The court’s conclusion does not grant the plaintiffs legal residence in Norway,” the judge wrote. “Norwegian authorities have a legitimate need to be able to deport foreigners who don’t have legal residence in Norway and who don’t leave voluntarily.”