The supervisory board of Norway’s Trandum Detention Centre, in its annual report about operations at the facility, expressed concern about the implementation of certain COVID-19 measures. Of particular concern are isolation measures imposed on all newly arriving detainees, who are required to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. During this period, they are locked in their rooms and unable to interact with others. Food is provided four times a day, and detainees are allowed outside for 1.5 hours a day–the same amount of time provided to non-quarantining detainees. During their time outdoors, they may speak to others at a distance and they are encouraged to wear masks.
According to the supervisory board, the isolation measure is “disproportionate” and the legal basis for the practice is “questionable.” They pointed out that detainees appear to have no ability to legally challenge their isolation. The board urged the facility to reassess its quarantine policy and investigate increased testing to reduce detainees’ isolation time. They pointed to the Norwegian National Human Rights Institution (NIM) which, in November 2020, affirmed that isolation in prison for the purposes of quarantine has a significantly different impact than “stay at home” orders and should be assessed in light of this distinction. The Trandum supervisory board urged similar consideration for isolation in immigration detention.
The board also noted a need to improve health services at the centre–both in terms of access and quality of care provided; to reduce the penal nature of the facility; and to ensure that detainees are provided with more varied, and culturally appropriate, food. As the Global Detention Project highlighted in its 2019 report, “Harm Reduction in Immigration Detention,” these concerns have been raised by observers for years. Recently, in December 2020, Norwegian media reported the case of an Ethiopian woman suffering from a number of health problems who was detained at Trandum from 16 August – 11 December 2020. According to the County Governor, her medical conditions significantly worsened because she was not provided with adequate medical care during her time in the facility.
With the number of detainees low in 2020 (on 8 September, 36 detainees were recorded in the facility)–and an expectation that numbers will remain low in 2021–the board held that now is an “opportune time for establishing new routines.”
- Trandum Supervisory Board, “Tilsynsrådet for Politiets utlendingsinternat, Trandum,” February 2021, https://www.regjeringen.no/no/dep/jd/org/styre-rad-og-utval/permanente-rad-utvalg-og-arbeidsgrupper-/tilsynsradet-for-politiets-utlendingsint/id547242/
- Global Detention Project, “Harm Reduction in Immigration Detention,” 3 January 2019, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/harm-reduction-immigration-detention
- L. Fransson, “Norge behandlet meg som et dyr,” Dagbladet, 9 December 2020, https://www.dagbladet.no/nyheter/norge-behandlet-meg-som-et-dyr/73098707