ILPI Senior Partner, Professor Kjetil Tronvoll was interviewed by NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, on Sunday 15 March, on the possibility that Norwegian immigration authorities are being fooled by bogus Eritrean refugees, sent to Norway to report back to the authoritarian regime on other Eritreans, who have fled their home country for genuine political reasons.
Tone Loge Tveter, Deputy Director of the Asylum section at Utlendingsdirektoratet (UDI), the Norwegian Immigration Authority, comments that Eritrea represents a particular challenge with regards to verification, since the country is so closed.
In recent years, Eritreans have been among the largest groups of asylum seekers to Norway. The news item argued that there are close connections, particularly between one Eritrean who has been given asylum in Norway, and high-ranking Eritrean officials. The same item adds further documentation to the allegation that supporters of the regime have hosted several meetings in Norway.
Tronvoll commented that the coverage suggests that the refugee, whose identity is withheld, appears to be trusted by the regime. The refugee in question declined the opportunity to explain himself in an interview, but has denied the allegations, saying his contact has only been out of courtesy. The Eritrean Embassy for Scandinavia, based on Stockholm, denied the possibility that the regime has this kind of unofficial representatives operating undercover within the diasporas. The Embassy further characterized the allegations as absurd and added that most Eritreans who leave the country do so for economic reasons.
Watch the whole news item ((in Norwegian, Tronvoll from 29:30 – 33:54), here.