Norway’s Immigration and Integration Minister has asked police to look into ankle tags as a solution to migrants going underground to avoid deportation.
Announcing that the country “must constantly seek new ways to safeguard Norwegian citizens” Sylvi Listhaug has outlined three groups of migrants on whom the government is considering putting tags.
In Bærum, the tags are used on men who have been convicted of violence against women. On Friday, the Progress Party politician went to the western Oslo municipality to learn more about how electronic tagging works from police.
Families with children, whose asylum claims have been rejected, are the main group of migrants the Progress Party politician has in mind when considering the tags.
Migrants due to be repatriated are usually detained in an asylum repository northeast of the capital Oslo called Trandum.
Speaking to Norway’s state-owned television company, she said: “Today, families have to be imprisoned in Trandum because there is a risk that parents will run away [from authorities.
“We do not want to have children in there sitting on Trandum long term therefore we must look at the ankle bracelet as a feasible option”, Listhaug added.
The second category Listhaug believes could be electronically tagged is that of repeat criminal offenders staying in Norway illegally. These she described as people whose home countries refuse to take their citizens back and who tend to reoffend soon after their release from jail.
“Some of these people going in and out of prison. When they come out they commit new crimes, and we want to look at measures to keep these people under control”, Listhaug said.says Listhaug.
Citing recent terror attacks in Europe, Listhaug said electronic tags could also be used to monitor migrants who fail to provide information or evidence of their identity.
Ann-Magrit Austenå, who heads the Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers (NOAS), has cautiously welcomed the idea as an alternative to detaining families.
The leader of the refugee advocacy group was less keen on tags for the latter two groups, however, and expressed concern over breaching migrants’ liberties. For the organisation to support tagging for people in these categories, Austenå suggested there should be a court ruling in place to back the decision and strong reasons why individuals would pose a security risk.
“There must be clear rules of law as to how this kind of sanction can be applied. This should be weighed against privacy concerns and it must not be indefinite”, she told NRK.
Norway generally takes a pragmatic approach to mass migration, recently erecting a steel fence to guard against further waves of migrants who would travel through Russia, though this prompted outcry from pro-migrant groups. This is in stark contrast to Sweden where, journalists at online independent magazine Avpixlat say, floating the idea of electronic tagging for migrants would have provoked fury.