Justice Minister criticized over forced return of asylum seekers

Anders AnundsenMinister of Justice Anders Anundsen's has been criticized by the government's supporting parties for how he has handled the returns of juvenile asylum seekers, which according to the Christian Democrats does not follow their original agreement.  "When the Ministry of Justice writes twice to the Directorate of Police to tell them that the number of forced returns has to go up, then Anundsen knows perfectly well what kind of consequences that will have. One can't claim to be ignorant about which groups are prioritized," says Hans Olav Syversen from the Christian Democrats (KrF). 

 

Anundsen had to answer questions in Parliament about why so many juvenile asylum seekers were deported last year, when the agreement with the government's supporting parties was to protect the children, and no longer let them be first in line for deportations. However, this goal may have been pushed aside so that the government could have a chance to reach its goal of 1900 returns, Bergens Tidende suggests. 

In the hearing, Anundsen claimed that the large number of juvenile deportations were caused by new "opportunities" to deport. However, Bergens Tidende presented a letter from Afghan authorities on Thursday, where they protest against and oppose the large number of returns coming from Norway. 

The Ministry of Justice received the letter in november, which means that Anundsen had already seen the letter when he had to answer to the high number of deportations. Both the Christian Democrats and the Liberal Left Party are now showing strong reactions to why neither the Minister of Justice of the State Secretary were open about the letter. 

Anundsen did not inform Parliament that Afghan authorities had protested against the forced returns, and that it could have consequences for Norway's return agreement with Afghanistan if they did not reduce the number. 

"They either have no control of what goes on in their own ministry, or they have pretended that nothing goes on at all. It could also be a case of incompetence. Now everything has to come out in the open," says Abid Q Raja, who is a member ofn the Liberal Left Party,'s control committee. 

Anundsen will attend a control hearing at Parliament on February 6. Originally the hearing was about the government's instructions not to place juvenile asylum seekers at the front of the line for returns, but with several politicians noq questioning the process and how he has handled the case, Anundsen will also have to fight to earn back his supporting parties' trust. 

(NRK/Aftenposten)

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