Amnesty International Report 2016/17 - The State of the World's Human Rights - Norway

The Immigration Law was amended to introduce significant restrictions on access to asylum. A new law granting transgender people the right to legal gender recognition was passed. Serious concerns remained about rape and other violence against women.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

In April, the government tabled 40 amendments to the Immigration Law to restrict access to asylum. This was in line with the Minister of Immigration and Integration’s aim of ensuring that Norway had “the strictest refugee policy in Europe”. The proposals included granting police at the border – rather than the Immigration Directorate and the Immigration Appeal Board – the power to assess whether a person is in need of international protection. They also included severe restrictions on the right to family reunification and the rights of asylum-seeking children. The most restrictive elements of the proposed legislation did not pass; but the package approved by Parliament in June, which began to be implemented in August, marked a significant retrogression on Norway’s approach to international protection. The new provisions included a requirement for refugees applying for permanent residency to demonstrate economic self-sufficiency for 12 months and a “crisis mechanism” allowing expulsions at the border when faced with large numbers of arriving asylum-seekers. As of August, 84 children in families whose claims for asylum had been rejected were detained together with their adult family members at the Trandum police immigration detention centre near Oslo Airport Gardermoen, pending return to their country of origin.

In early December, 40 young male Afghan nationals, some of whom claimed to be under 18, were returned to Afghanistan as part of the government’s policy to return Afghan asylum-seekers.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people

In June, Parliament adopted a new law on legal gender recognition, granting transgender people aged 16 or older the right to legal gender recognition on the basis of self-identification. Children aged between six and 16 can apply for legal gender recognition with the consent of their parents or guardians. Violence motivated by discriminatory attitudes towards transgender people was still not classified as a hate crime in the Penal Code.

Discrimination – sex workers

While selling sex was not illegal, sex workers remained subject to a high level of policing and penalization. Sex workers faced human rights abuses such as physical and sexual violence including rape, exploitation and harassment, and risked facing penalization if they engaged with police. The enforcement of sex work, public nuisance and immigration laws to disrupt and prohibit sex work led to sex workers being subjected to forced eviction, police surveillance, fines, discrimination, loss of livelihood and deportation.1

Violence against women and girls

Rape and other sexual violence against women and girls remains endemic. The legal definition of rape in the Penal Code was not consent-based. Serious concerns remained about attrition rates in rape investigations and prosecutions, and in the lack of gender sensitivity among lay judges in hearing rape cases. There was systemic failure to ensure women’s rights to legal protection and equality before the law. The number of rapes reported to police increased by 12% from 2014 to 2015, according to police statistics published in May.

International justice

On 24 June the Ministry of Justice ruled that a 43-year-old Rwandan national accused of complicity in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, whose appeal rights were exhausted, could be extradited to Rwanda. The extradition had not been carried out by the end of the year.

  1. The human cost of ‘crushing’ the market: Criminalization of sex work in Norway (EUR 36/4034/2016)

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