Norway deported a record number of foreigners last year, either because they committed crimes or because of alleged violations of immigration law. The expulsions are raising concerns about the rights of those affected.
“I had a job, I had my son, I had friends and Norway felt like my home,” Eunice Kangwaa Kavangi of Kenya told state broadcaster NRK. She lived for 10 years in Norway before being sent out of the country last year, after immigration authorities had claimed she had a pro-forma marriage. Her two-year-old son is now living in a foster home in Norway.
More active police enforcement of immigration law
Kavangi is among 6,412 people deported in 2015, compared to 1,274 10 years ago. The increase in deportations is larger than the increase in immigration, claims Sigmund Mohn, a doctoral candidate at the University of Oslo who’s been researching his project on “police control of immigration.”
Mohn told NRK that the six-fold increase in expulsions doesn’t only reflect increased immigration in recent years. “There are several reasons for the increase, including increased immigration to Norway and more foreigners who have committed crimes in Norway, but also higher activity on the part of the police,” Mohn said.
The biggest increase in deportations was tied to those found to have violated immigration law, up 37 percent from 2014 to 2015.
A question of rights
Mohn maintains that deportations handled by police and immigration authorities, and not by the courts, pose a risk to the rights of those targeted. “Deportation isn’t viewed as punishment, but it’s a serious reaction,” he said. “The kind of legal rights one has when breaking a law should also apply to deportations. That means the right to a defense attorney and a trial in court.”
Bringing every deporation case before a court would be very expensive and time-consuming, contends the leader of the judicial department at the police unit charged with enforcing immigration law (Politiets Utlendingsenhet), Jan Olav Frantsvold.
“Norway has the right to decide who can reside within its territory,” he told NRK. “and then this (the increase in deportations) is a necessary consequence when some don’t receive permission to be in the territory.” He said he was “comfortable” with deportations not being seen as punishment, “even though the effects are great for those involved.”