Norway: 33 Taliban-linked asylum seekers received residence-permits

Norway: 33 Taliban-linked asylum seekers received residence-permits

Asylum seekers said they had executed prisoners, tortured or were soldiers in the Taliban, yet got to stay in Norway.  33 Afghans who say they are linked to the movement got residence on humanitarian grounds in 2008 and 2009.

On asylum seeker said he participated in executing prisoners on orders from the Taliban.  Another informed on a thief who then had his arm and leg cut off.  A third produced a death sentence fro the Norwegian foreign office for having committed terror attacks for the Taliban.

The UDI (Directorate of Immigration) thought the asylum seekers had no basis to stay in Norway. The UNE (Immigration Appeals Board) overruled the UDI and gave them residence on humanitarian ground, since they only had links with unstable areas in Afghanistan.

A report by the UNE Appeal Court prepared for the Minister of Labor and Social Inclusion Dag Terje Andersen shows that 33 people who said they had various connection to the Taliban got residence in Norway in 2008 and 2009.  The number is much higher than previously announced.  Norwegian forces regularly fight Taliban groups in Afghanistan.

The asylum seekers said they had performed very different tasks for the Taliban, everything from being an executioner, torturer and informant to being a soldier, cook or driver.

Four asylum seekers who said they were linked to the Taliban chose to convert to Christianity, and thus received residence.  One Afghan said he was imprisoned because his family was charged with supporting the Taliban.  After he was denied residence by the UDI, he converted to Jehovah's Witnesses.  Later he was baptized in the church.

The UNE wrote in their decision that the man said he didn't have a deep Muslim faith, and gave him residence.

A minority in the UNE said he lacked knowledge of central issues in Christianity and the Bible.  The conversion took place after he was finally denied asylum, and he was baptized after a very short relation with Christianity.  The majority in the UNE still gave the man residence.  Today the Afghan works in a mission house in the city where he lives.

None of the asylum seekers who said they had links to the Taliban received residence by the UNE due ot that reason.  All were first denied residency by the UDI before they appealed to the UNE and received permission to stay in Norway.

- 27 asylum seekers got residence on humanitarian grounds because the UNE thought they came from unstable areas in Afghanistan
- 1 asylum seeker got residence due to "mental health" and would be vulnerable on returning.
- 1 asylum seeker got residence because he came from an "inaccessible area" as per recommendation from UNHCR.
- 4 asylum seekers got residence after converting to Christianity.

13 of the asylum seekers which got residence from the UNE, claimed they had close family members in the Taliban.  20 of the people claim they had worked for the Taliban.

In its ten page letter to the cabinet minister, the UNE writes that the 33 Taliban cases include all cases where asylum seekers with some type of link to the Taliban were given residence in 2008 and 2009 (until now).  This means that there are many more Taliban cases in the archives from the period 2004-2007.  UNE meanwhile thinks it will not be very appropriate to go through them all, also because they make up 2000 cases.

The UDI, similarly to the UNE, also prepared its own Taliban report, according to which the UDI today has no oversight over how many people linked to the Taliban received residence in Norway.

The UDI writs that such oversight should be done by manually reviewing a large number of cases.  UDI says that links to the Taliban is an element which could be considered whether an asylum seeker fulfills the conditions for being considered a refugee.

The UDI says that the starting point should be that a person has a profiled, influential position in the Taliban regime in order to be subjected to persecution.

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

See also:
* Netherlands: Convert and stay
* Norway: Convert to Christianity denied asylum, counseled to return to Islam
* Oslo: Terrorism investigation leads to former Taliban health minister
* Norway: Afghani protest leads to political discussion

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