The significance of "country of origin" in the Immigration Act
Supreme Court judgment 14 December 2020, HR-2020-2408-A, (case no. 20-066548SIV-HRET), civil case, appeal against judgment.
A (Counsel Georg Schjerven Hansen), Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers (NOAS) (third-party intervener) (Counsel Christian Hauge) v. The State represented by the Immigration Appeals Board (The Office of the Attorney General represented by Marius Kjelstrup Emberland)
Dommere: Webster, Normann, Bull, Falch, Steinsvik
An asylum seeker who stated she was from Eritrea, had had her asylum application rejected by the immigration authorities. She demanded a reversal of the rejection after having been issued with an Eritrean passport. This had given her Eritrean citizenship. The Immigration Authorities upheld the rejection. The appeal before the Supreme Court was limited to the general interpretation of the term "country of origin" in section 28 subsection 1 (a) of the Immigration Act. The Supreme Court took as a starting point that the citizenship at the time of the administrative decision must be used as basis for establishing the "country of origin". Nonetheless, an abuse reservation must be read into it. If the only demonstrable likely purpose of the citizenship is a wish to increase the possibility of asylum, abuse may be a natural conclusion. The Supreme Court's majority of three justices found that the Immigration Appeals Board's decision had to be interpreted to mean that the applicant had acquired the citizenship to become eligible for asylum, and that it indicated that the Immigration Appeals' Board had concluded abuse. The Immigration Appeals Board had thus not interpreted the law incorrectly when not giving citizenship decisive weight in the assessment of what was the asylum seeker's country of origin. The minority of two justices found it hard to read a direct abuse assessment from the Immigration Appeals Board's administrative decision, and voted for setting it aside. The appeal against the Court of Appeal's judgment, given in favour of the State represented by the Immigration Appeals Board, was dismissed. Dissent 3-2.