The now 32-year-old Syrian asylum seeker initially had the right to be recognized as a refugee, because he was at risk of persecution upon his return to Syria. However, his asylum application was rejected because the immigration authorities believed he was guilty of complicity in a serious non-political crime outside Norway.
In general, the immigration authority can refuse asylum if the asylum seeker is guilty of a “serious non-political crime”. In this case, the crime was complicity in the persecution of political opponents of the Assad regime.
As of 2022: More Syrian asylum seekers in Norway
Arrest of political opponents
The man was a conscripted soldier in the army of the Syrian dictator. As a soldier, he participated, under orders, in suppressing demonstrations after the “Arab Spring” in 2011.
He had participated in a raid on the homes of opposition figures, where they were arrested and handed over to the security forces. Many of these opponents were later tortured and killed.
The man knew what happened to the people he arrested, but said his actions would not have made any difference. Opponents could have been tortured and killed even if he had not arrested them personally.
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The Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the man and overturned the Migration Board’s decision. The decision was appealed, and now the Supreme Court has considered what is required to be able to refuse an asylum seeker stay if the person who committed it is guilty of a “serious non-political offence”. The ruling clarifies where the threshold lies for being denied asylum due to participation in armed forces that have committed abuses abroad.
The Supreme Court wrote in a press release that the matter was assessed in accordance with international standards such as the Refugee Convention and guidelines issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. This is to ensure that asylum rules are applied as equally as possible by Member States.
The Supreme Court reached the conclusion that relevant participation in the arrest and extradition of persons at risk of torture and murder must be considered as complicity. The Supreme Court believes that it is not conclusive that the torture and killing would not have stopped if the 32-year-old had refrained from arresting the opposition.
Even if an asylum seeker loses the case in the Supreme Court, this does not automatically mean that he will not be granted asylum. Now the Court of Appeal will once again decide whether the asylum seeker should be granted residency, “including the asylum seeker’s personal culpability at the time of the acts, the significance of the threats to which he was made and other relevant circumstances,” the Supreme Court wrote. court.
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