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Torture in Norwegian

Norwegian asylum policy is not worthy of society.


[23. February 2007] You are locked in a cell without water, toilet and daylight. The only thing you get to eat is a bag of freeze-dried food a day. You are depressed and self-destructive, but there is no doctor in the prison. Every time you fall asleep, the guards come and wake you up, every 15 minutes of the night. This is how you have been doing it for six months, and this is how you will have it for another six months before being escorted out of the country to an uncertain future. You're not on Guantanamo. You are at the Trandum Immigration Intern at Gardermoen.

Over the next two months, the Ministry of Labor and Social Inclusion will submit proposals for amendments to the Immigration Act, in order to finally be able to adopt new regulations for the boarding school. They are designed by a group of professionals composed by Minister of Justice Knut Storberget, and the group will, among other things, have a separate supervisory council for foreigners at Trandum. It's about time. When Civil Ombudsman Arne Fliflet presented his report to the Storting last week, it depended on much of the criticism that has previously come from the Council of Europe's torture committee: The inmates at Trandum lack legal protection and are imprisoned under poor conditions without the possibility of trial of their cases.

A lot has happened since Ny Tid was the first newspaper to visit the boarding school in the summer of 2002. Most of it is not worthy of the rule of law. Unaccompanied minor asylum seekers, the mentally ill and severely burdened families have been imprisoned under legal conditions that led the Bar Association's Arild Humlen to draw parallels to Guantanamo in Ny Tid a year ago. But after the Minister of Justice visited Trandum in May last year, there have been small steps towards improvement. The smooth cells are closed and the regulations are on their way. This will help the situation at Trandum. But it's not enough.

"I try to avoid creating problems for myself and others. But after seven years of waiting, all hope is gone, "the Iraqi told Ny Tid when we visited him at Dale asylum reception a year ago. A few days later, he took an employee hostage in a dramatic action that ended with him being sentenced to four years in prison this week. The former Trandum prisoner had waited seven years for clarification on whether he could stay in the country. He is not alone. Norwegian asylum policy is a system that produces destinies like his. In reception centers all over Norway, hard-pressed people have been sitting for years waiting for clarification. While sitting there, the rights are minimal and the opportunities few. You can imagine yourself. A life without hope, job, money or future.

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