Ministry of Justice and Public Security
GI-15/2017 Instructions on the practising of the Immigration Act, section 28 [Residence permit for foreign nationals in need of protection (asylum)] – Asylum seekers who cite the risk of persecution due to (alleged) links to the Gülen network
Circular | Date: 12 October 2017
- The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI)
- The Immigration Appeals Board (UNE)
- The National Police Directorate (Norway)
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Our reference: 17/4780
The Ministry of Justice and Public Security refers to the Ministry’s general competence to issue instructions and the Act of 15 May 2008 no. 35 on the Entry of Foreign Nationals into the Kingdom of Norway and their Stay in the Realm (Immigration Act), section 76, second paragraph. Further reference is made to the Directorate of Immigration (UDI)’s practice proposal of 5 July 2017 on the establishment of practices in the so-called Gülen cases.
The purpose of these Instructions is to provide further guidelines for how refugees from this group shall be assessed under the Immigration Act, section 28 [Residence permit for foreign nationals in need of protection (asylum)].
The Directorate recognises that extensive political changes in Turkey and a generally worsening human rights situation in that country have led to a new group of applicants seeking protection in Norway. These are persons who cite the risk of persecution based on links, or alleged links, to the Fethullah Gülen network/ movement. The Directorate writes that these applicants can risk arrest, imprisonment, torture and conviction and will be entitled to protection under the Immigration Act, section 28, first paragraph, letter a, and that in some cases also family members of active Gülen affiliates may be entitled to protection.
The Directorate notes that the majority who have sought protection in Norway to date have been professors at, or have some other professional connections to, the Gülen schools and colleges at home and abroad. In the Directorate’s experience, the applicants have ID documents and documents indicating links to the Gülen movement. At the beginning of May 2017, the Directorate had 89 asylum applications on file from Turkish nationals, but the number of refugees in this category could increase, depending in part on the Directorate’s future practices.
3. Directorate’s proposal
The Directorate proposes that applicants with credible indications of involvement within the Gülen movement, or applicants who can show that the domestic authorities in their country of origin have alleged such involvement, and where the actual or alleged involvement may trigger persecution by the authorities, shall be entitled to protection under the Immigration Act, section 28, first paragraph, letter a.
A concrete and individual assessment of the need for protection must always be made, in light of the profiles (types of involvement) that the Turkish authorities are persecuting. Concrete assessment combined with up-to-date country information will ensure a flexible and proper approach to the individual cases.
The Directorate states that referral to internal displacement will not be applicable, since the Turkish authorities control the whole country. The Directorate will focus on identifying factors that can provide a basis for exclusion from the right to recognition as a refugee.
4. Ministry’s assessment
The Ministry concurs with the Directorate’s assessment that asylum seekers from Turkey with credible indications of involvement within the Gülen movement, or who can show that the Turkish authorities allege such an involvement, AND who on this basis risk persecution by the authorities, will be entitled to protection under the Immigration Act, section 28.
The Directorate’s proposal only embraces protection under Immigration Act, section 28, first paragraph, letter a. The Ministry notes that applicants in this group may also, following a concrete assessment, be entitled to protection under the Immigration Act, section 28, first paragraph, letter b.
In the instructions below, we identify specific factors that the Directorate shall particularly take into account and assess when processing asylum applications from this group.
- All applications for asylum are to be assessed in concrete and individual terms under the Immigration Act, section 28, first paragraph, letters a and b, based on the applicant’s activities, background and profile, and the reactions that the applicant may risk upon return. However, having links (or alleged links) with the Gülen movement, or sympathising with this movement’s ideas, generally speaking does not indicate that all persons will be entitled to protection under the Immigration Act, section 28.
- It is the risk of future reactions upon return that must be assessed. It is now more than one year since the attempted coup. Accordingly, the Directorate must closely monitor the situation and developments in Turkey, including to what extent violations occur in Turkish jails and detention cells, and whether special profiles are considered to be especially vulnerable. The Directorate must consider obtaining new, updated information from the Norwegian Country of Origin Information Centre, or a Norwegian consular station in Turkey, if such information can be crucial for deciding the outcome of the application.
- As a point of departure, the applicant has the responsibility to prove his or her allegations as far as possible. The authorities must be able to require that a person who invokes the protection rules presents whatever information he or she can about relevant factors. The Directorate shall require the applicant to submit documentation that can support his or her allegations whenever possible.
- The attempted coup in Turkey in July 2016 was an attack on a democratically elected government. For applicants who cite fear of future criminal prosecution because they committed, or were accessories to, criminal acts in connection with the attempted coup, the Directorate must assess whether there are grounds within the scope of a convention [the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951] and whether an anticipated punishment may be deemed persecution under the Immigration Act, section 28, first paragraph, letter a, or whether a penal reaction would violate the Immigration Act, section 28, first paragraph, letter b. If the conditions for asylum are deemed to be met in such a situation, the Directorate must assess whether there are grounds for exclusion from the right to recognition as a refugee under the Immigration Act, section 31 [Exclusion from the right to recognition as a refugee under section 28], first or third paragraph.
- Many Turkish nationals have been dismissed or excluded from their positions in the public or private sector since the attempted coup. This is not alone sufficient to warrant the designation “persecution”. For an act or acts to be deemed to constitute persecution within the meaning of the Immigration Act, section 28, first paragraph, letter a, the person or persons concerned must come under the definition of persecution in the Immigration Act, section 29 [Further details concerning persecution under section 28], first paragraph, letter a or b.
- The Directorate must make a concrete assessment of whether the guidelines for processing of cases in accordance with the Instructions GI-03/2016 will apply (cases that may impact on fundamental national interests or foreign policy concerns).
6. Entry into force
These instructions enter into force forthwith.
|Nina E.D Mørk (by authority)||Unni-Mette Vårdal|
|Director||Senior Advisory Officer|