Where do the changes go, Mihl? – Daily newspaper

Where do the changes go, Mihl?  – Daily newspaper

Recently, the Police Immigration Detention Center Oversight Committee published Trandome 2022 Annual Report. The annual report comes just weeks after that The civilian investigator, Han Haarlem, told Aftenposten The daily detainees “(..) are treated in a manner that we believe is illegal and presumably violates human rights.”

These are strong words that we on the Oversight Board stand for.

Trandome is a fenced area in Gardermoen with a high level of security. For some foreigners who do not have legal residence in Norway, this is the last stop before they are forcibly sent out of the country. Most are held for a few days before deportation, but for others, it takes weeks and months before they leave.

It is long past the deprivation of liberty and the cut off from any meaningful daily and social activity. The detainees are not allowed access to their mobile phones, computers, and the Internet, and are locked up alone in their small rooms for about half a day. Many say the situation is unbearable.

Trandome is not a place for execution. It is not the crime behind the arrest of the foreigner. However, Trandome has an indefensible prison feeling. An excessive level of security has negative consequences for detention and causes detainees unnecessary suffering in an already difficult situation.

There is scope for less power intrusions and a lower degree of control, without compromising security. Although there have been some improvements, such as detainees getting more time outdoors, the necessary changes have not been made. This is despite the fact that the need for this has been repeated from many sides and with the passage of time.

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Our impression is that the Ministry of Justice consistently failed to prioritize the situations in Trandome after the establishment of the boarding school, and did not listen to the criticisms that came from many bodies.

However, there were some positive signals from the ministry during 2022. In February 2022, Minister of Justice and Emergency Preparedness Emily Inger Mehl said she took the criticism seriously.

Mehl announced a review of the regulations that apply to Trandôme, in which criticisms would be taken into account. As of January 2023, a secretariat has been established that streamlines and promotes continuity in the activities of the Supervisory Board. Moreover, it was decided that the long-criticised health service in Trandôme should be taken over by the public sector.

The ministry also decided to investigate whether responsibility for operations should be transferred away from the police, which is responsible today, to the Correctional Service. Acknowledging that current operations are not satisfactory is important, but the Oversight Board is concerned about the ministry’s slow pace. Referrals to investigations should not become a sleeping pad for urgent changes.

After receiving criticism from the Civil Ombudsman, the ministry stated in March 2022 that it would “as an immediate measure” ask the Police Directorate to provide increased access to communications to detainees. The ministry also called for a reduction in the length of detention and indicated that resource considerations alone could not justify the detention of detainees outside the night.

Despite this, lock time has been reduced marginally. Reservation twice during the day is still contrary to the Ministry’s directives. On weekends, the detainee was locked in the cell from 9 pm until 10.05 am the next morning, and then locked again when the staff had a break.

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In other words, we are talking about more than 11 hours – locked in a small room, without access to such means of communication as a mobile phone or PC. We remind you that the detainees are not there to serve their sentence. It should be clear that this practice is untenable without independent assessments being carried out on each individual case to justify why the closure is necessary.

Also, “immediate action” with a directive on increased communication with detainees, did not materialize into tangible changes. It is incomprehensible that arrangements that provide access to telephone, PC and internet are not yet in place. This practice cannot be justified in terms of safety, nor is it sufficiently well-established in legal terms.

The Oversight Board is concerned with the reasons and purpose for the practice of extensive body searches of detainees. Although there have been some improvements in this area after years of criticism, such as that nudist searches are now staged and therefore in a less humiliating manner, there seem to be unclear criteria for whether or not a body search should take place. This is a big problem. We advocate for body scanners that could replace or reduce strip inspections. We’ve pointed this out over time, and it’s hard to understand why this hasn’t been followed up.

Although there is hope for positive changes in Trandome, it is happening very little, very slowly. Grave injustice is being committed against the people held there. As a supervisory board, we will continue to make that clear and ask where the procedures end up. The negativity must end.

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Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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