The Trandum National Police Immigration Detention Centre, Norway’s only immigration detention facility which has a capacity of 220, had a population of 50 detainees as of 1 April, according to a communication from the Norwegian Red Cross (NRC) to the Global Detention Project (GDP). A series of measures have been implemented to avoid the spread of Covid-19 within the facility:
– Only lawyers are allowed into the facility while visits by Norwegian Red Cross volunteers and individuals have been suspended.
– Staff are investigating enabling videoconferences for detainees with family members, although this has not yet been put in place.
– The frequency of disinfection and cleaning has been increased. The facility is now cleaned several times a day.
– A separate unit has been dedicated to managing suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases. Infected persons will be placed in this separate unit, isolated from others.
The Norwegian Red Cross reported that some detainees had been released, but it was unclear how many. Those released include people deemed to not be a flight risk as well as people with a permanent and/or official address in Norway (for instance, reception centres for asylum seekers or a family address). On 24 April, two Dublin cases were released due to border closures and as the police cannot detain asylum seekers for more than six weeks after the recipient country accepts responsibility. It was expected that three others would soon be released.
On 16 March, the country released 194 prisoners to avoid the spread of Covid-19 within its prisons. However, on 14 April, four inmates in the Bastøy Prison in Oslo tested positive for the disease. The Norwegian Correctional Service stated that 10 of their employees nationwide have been affected by the virus, but have not specified where in the country the employees work.
As in other Scandinavian countries, the Covid-19 pandemic appears to be taking a disproportionate toll on immigrant groups in Norway. Some 15 percent of residents in Norway were born abroad but 25 percent of those that have tested positive for Covid-19 were foreign-born. Public health officials and researchers have said that immigrant communities tend to work in “high-contract jobs – healthcare workers, drivers and cleaners, for example – with a higher risk of exposure.” Language barriers may also be at play as a lot of information was circulated through national health authorities’ websites that are unfamiliar to many people in immigrant communities.
On 21 April 2020, the National Centre for Multicultural Education (NAFO) published an online resource with information on Covid-19 in several languages, as well as various online resources for minority language learners.
- Plane Flying Over Trandum Detention Centre in Norway, (Stian Lysberg Solum, NTB Scanpix, “Internerte asylsøkere løslates på grunn av koronaventing,” 24 April 2020, https://www.dagsavisen.no/nyheter/innenriks/internerte-asylsokere-loslates-pa-grunn-av-koronaventing-1.1704826)
- Elise Kaurin, (Red Cross), Email exchange with Mario Guido (Global Detention Project), 24 April 2020.
- Global Detention Project, Immigration Detention in Norway, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/europe/norway
- NTB, “Internerte asylsøkere løslates på grunn av koronaventing,” Da Dagsavisen, 24 April 2020, https://www.dagsavisen.no/nyheter/innenriks/internerte-asylsokere-loslates-pa-grunn-av-koronaventing-1.1704826
- Prison Insider, “Europe: Coronavirus, la Fièvre des Prisons,” 18 March 2020, https://www.prison-insider.com/articles/europe-coronavirus-la-fievre-des-prisons#norvege-5e84d4851bf90
- B. Kerr, “Four Coronavirus Infected Inmates in Bastøy Prison,” Norway Today, 14 April 2020, https://norwaytoday.info/news/four-coronavirus-infected-inmates-in-bastoy-prison/
- L. Masri, “Covid-19 Takes Unequal Toll on Immigration in Nordic Region,” Reuters, 24 April 2020, www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-norway-immigrants/covid-19-takes-unequal-toll-on-immigrants-in-nordic-region-idUSKCN2260XW
- S. B. Johnsen, “Internet Resources and Information about Corona,” National Centre for Multicultural Education, 21 April 2020, https://nafo.oslomet.no/nettressurser-og-informasjon-om-korona/?fbclid=IwAR0_FnxrY2hrvJr60VWaWU92kf7CXBb3nce-CTcpMerYgtLG3zBckJ_8NPQ