Stop the deportation of Maria Amelie
On the evening of Wednesday 12th January, the 25 years old writer Maria Amelie was arrested for breaking Norwegian immigration laws. She now risks being deported to Russia. Amnesty, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and Norwegian PEN react to this attempt to criminalize a free, Norwegian voice. Maria Amelie arrived in Norway as a child. She has completed a university education and has helped focus on the situation for «paper-less» immigrants. Her efforts to become a part of our society are remarkable. At 25 she has contributed more to Norwegian public debate than most of us do in a lifetime.
This case has a legal, as well as a moral side. Regardless of the fact that the police and immigration authorities are abiding by the law, it is difficult to understand how a child, brought to Norway by her parents, can be held responsible for breaking immigration laws. As far as we know, immigration authorities recently decided to turn down Amelies application to stay in Norway, but she was apprehended without being offered an interview or information about this decision. Furthermore, the police are unwilling to offer any information about her arrest to her lawyer. Consequently, Maria Amelie never had the opportunity to inform Norwegian authorities about her case. This fact is in conflict with basic judiciary principles.
In any case – the apprehension of Maria Amelie is reprehensible. She had to leave Russia when still a child and because her parents brought her with them. During her eight years in Norway she has built up a huge network, and in every way lived like an honest citizen – with the exception of this one fact, that she stayed in Norway. But by doing so, she followed a tradition which has enriched our society – civil disobedience against laws we consider to be injust. Because, if the deportation of Maria Amelie is according to the law, the law must be changed. Are her efforts to be a part of the Norwegian society not worth anything? Should not her numerous Norwegian supporters be heard? Who would loose if she is allowed to stay?
This is not about how unique Maria Amelie is. There should be equal justice for everyone and there are many «paper-less» immigrants like her. The point being that if there is no room for reason and compassion in cases like this, the judiciary has degenerated to pure bureaucracy. Is this the kind of Norway we want? We demand that our minister of justice, Mr. Knut Storberget, stops this shameless deportation of a brave woman who has blown the whistle on an invisible problem: The destiny of the paperless immigrants to Europe.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee