Norway: Devastating blow for Afghans as parliament rejects asylum proposal

Taibeh Abbasi is now at risk of deportation

The Norwegian parliament’s decision today to reject a proposal to place a temporary halt on returning people to Afghanistan demonstrates a disturbing disregard for the lives of people fleeing war and persecution, Amnesty International said.

The parliament also rejected a proposal which would have made it more difficult to send asylum seekers back to the countries they fled from. This proposal would have brought Norwegian law closer in line with international standards.

Afghanistan remains extremely dangerous, with civilian casualties reaching record highs in 2017. Less than a month ago, at least 40 people were killed by a bomb in Kabul, in an attack that appeared to deliberately target students.

Charmain Mohamed, Head of Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty, said:

“This is awful news for Afghans in Norway, and a sad indication that politicians in one of the wealthiest countries in the world have lost their compassion.

“Life in Afghanistan is fraught with dangers including bombing, kidnapping, and persecution. It is cruel and immoral to send people there.

“Not only is it deeply irresponsible to force people back to danger, it is illegal. With these proposals, Norway had a chance to prove itself as a leader in upholding human rights - it has now thrown away that chance and jeopardised the futures of hundreds of Afghans.”

Taibeh Abbasi at risk

Among the Afghans affected by today’s decision is Taibeh Abbasi, an 18-year-old living in the city of Trondheim whose case ignited huge student protests. Taibeh was born in Iran and has never visited Afghanistan, where she is terrified of going.

Last year she told demonstrators: “In Kabul there is no future for me and my brothers. We will be exposed to discrimination and physically feel what it is like to be an exposed minority. I as a girl am particularly exposed. My dreams of an education and a career will be broken.”

More than 100,000 people worldwide have signed Amnesty’s petition calling on the Norwegian government to stop returning people to Afghanistan until the country is stable enough to ensure their safety and dignity.

Charmain Mohamed said:

“Afghans like Taibeh and her family deserve to live in safety and dignity. We are calling on Norwegian MPs to reconsider their position and to make sure that no Afghans are forced back to danger.”

Deportations

The proposal concerning a halt of forcible returns of people to Afghanistan was put forward by the Socialist Left Party, the Green Party and the Red Party, while the proposal on the reasonableness criteria was put forward by the Socialist Left Party.

On 9 January, the Norwegian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Local Government and Public Administration recommended that they be rejected, and today parliament voted in line with this recommendation.

Norway appears to deport more Afghans than almost any other European country – not just in proportion to its population, but in sheer total numbers. According to the Afghan authorities, 32% (97 out of 304 people) of forcible returns from Europe in the first four months of 2017 came from Norway.

A 2017 Amnesty International report detailed cases of Afghans who have been returned from European countries – including Norway – to be killed, injured in bomb attacks, or living in constant fear of persecution.

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