Experiences as lawyer of unaccompanied minor refugee

Report
Experiences as lawyer of
unaccompanied minor
refugees
Bente Oftedal Roli
Legal advice and guardian
• Minor asylum seekers are entitled to lawyer
from the moment they are registered as asylum
seekers in Norway and not only in case of
appeal.
• Legal guardian is also appointed just after
arrival to the transit camp.
• When a child is moved to a new camp, the legal
guardian is mostly dismissed and a new one in
one will be appointed.
The responsibility for minor asylum seekers
is divided between National Child
Protection Services (Barnevernet) and The
Immigration Authorities(UDI).
• The responsibility for the children is organized due
to age and if they come through/from a country
under the Dublin convention or not.
• National Child Protection Services has the
responsibility for minors less then 15 years of age
and The Immigration Authorities for those between
15 and 18 years old.
• National Child Protection Services are regulated by
the law of Child Protection with legal standards and
the care for asylum seekers is the same as for
Norwegians children not living with their parents.
Different standards for minors between 15 and
18 years old
• Minors between 15 and 18 years of age have a very different
standard under The Immigration Authorities(UDI). The
organization of the camps and daily life are made through a
numerous directives and regulations and all standards are below the
standard the norms of institutions run by National Child Protection
Services.
• Minors are staying in the camp on a “voluntary basis” and there is
no legal standards to be applied or to stop them or look into the case
if they want to move out.
• The camps are mostly run by private enterprises on commercial
bases.
• In this camps there is no legal standards to the competence and
number of staff required and it is for 0,34 -0,56 persons per minor.
There is no requirement that the staff shall have any knowledge or
professional background on working with children.
• At institutions run by National Child Protection Services it is 2,7
persons for each minor. National Child Protection Services have
procedures for what to do when a minor disappears and this is quite
different when minors disappears from the camps of The
Immigration Authorities(UDI).
Disappeared minor asylum seekers in
risk of abuse or trafficking
In 2013, 240 minor asylum seekers
disappeared.
Number of disappeared children (2010-2014)
Fylke
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
Totalsum
Totalsum
52
34
82
72
8
248
AKERSHUS
12
18
39
12
2
83
AUST-AGDER
3
2
1
0
0
6
BUSKERUD
7
0
0
0
0
7
HEDMARK
5
0
0
1
0
6
MØRE OG
ROMSDAL
2
3
13
9
1
28
NORDLAND
2
4
2
1
NORDTRØNDELAG
0
1
0
5
0
6
OPPLAND
8
0
0
1
1
10
OSLO
0
1
3
2
0
6
ROGALAND
0
1
2
2
0
5
SOGN OG
FJORDANE
0
0
1
0
0
1
SØRTRØNDELAG
0
0
1
0
0
1
9
Status by disappearing (Source: UDI)
Status by disappearance
2013
2014
Total
72
8
Application in process
41
7
Appeal in process after
negative
10
Duty to leave the
country
16
With limited residence
permit
5
1
Time from arrival to disappearance
(Source: UDI)
Time from arrival to
disappearance
2013
2014
Total
72
8
Within a month
35
4
1 - 3 months
15
2
4 - 12 months
16
2
Over a year
6
• About 1000 minors applied for asylum in
Norway in 2013 and 104 left the camp. 72 of
these have disappeared and one do not know
where they are or what has happened to them.
• 41 disappeared before getting an answer in their
case. 35 (almost 50%) of the children
disappeared the first month in Norway and more
15 children during the first 3 months.
• Only 5 of the children in institution under
National Child Protection were lost.
Who, how and why do the minors
leave the camp?
• From my experience, there are many that leave the
camps when they learn that they will risk to be sent
back to one of the other EU Member State as a
country they have stayed in or just passed.
Rather early in the asylum process it becomes clear
that The Immigration Authorities(UDI) will apply
the Dublin convention. These children will mostly
remain in the transit camp and are easily recruited
to all kinds of abuse as criminal activities, sexual
abuse and prostitution.
• As their lawyer, I sometimes get in touch with them
after they are registered as disappeared. They may
contact med directly or through “Uteseksjonen”
(Outdoor service working at the street) but with little
possibility to help.
• Another similar group are the children that have got a
temporary permit valid till their 18th birthday. In 2013,
5 of the disappeared belonged to this group. The
residence permit might be renewed for a year at the
time after being 18 years in some conditions, but they
keep on “staying temporary”. The permanent stress
this implicates can easily lead a minor in to the danger
of abuse.
• Some minors run away because of the difficulties they
face in the camp or because they have got their first
negative and do not believe the appeal will result.
Some of the camps are overcrowded, with mix of
adults and youngsters with severe conflicts.
Non-refoulment
• Among the “Dublin Children”, many have in their
applications for asylum given detailed statements of
abuse and lack of care they have been exposed to in other
European countries. This has been often been the main
reason for fleeing to Norway. When this information is
given in the appeal, it is very rare enough to grant a
residence permit.
• For several years this was the case with the children
coming to Norway from Greece. The majority of these
children were returned to Greece until EMD stopped all
returns to Greece.
• Children coming from Italy had similar experiences and
reported inhuman condition, living on the street, etc.
• This was never looked into by Norwegian authorities and
they were all returned.
As an example I had a 16 years old client who clearly
expressed that he would kill himself if he was returner to
Switzerland. When he got his negative he disappeared.
I was contacted by the UDI who waited for the final appeal.
When I informed them again that the boy had disappeared
and I could not get in touch with him, I was told that he was
in prison. But nobody knew which prison. Eventually I found
him in a prison in Bergen. He had then stayed there for 4
days and had two serious suicide attempts intending to hang
himself in the cell, but neither, a doctor, local National Child
Protection Services, his legal Guardian or his lawyer were
informed.
He was few days later considered not acute suicidal and
deported with the company of two police officers. What has
later happened to him has not been possible to find out.
When returned
• When minors between 15 and 18 years are returned, it seems
not to be taken any measures except contact with the police to
receive them when they arrive.
• In my cases I have seen little or no attempt to find the minors
family or guardian to receive them.
• It is my impression that little or nothing is done to follow-up a
child after being returned.
• A child`s appointed legal guardian in Norway has little
influence on the procedure and their job is finished when a
child is returned.
• Minors that have got there asylum but later on get in contact
with their parents, risks being sent out as they are considered
not to be in need of care.
(That is an ongoing case at the moment.)
Summary and recommendations
• The National Child Protection Services must be
responsible for all minors, not only the minors
less than 15 years of age.
• The Dublin Convention must be suspended for
minor asylum seekers.
• No minor must be returned to home country or
country of origin without the guaranty of a legal
guardian to follow up from arrival.
• Norway need to check up afterwards later on, to
see if the conditions are fulfilled.

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