The Supreme Court of Norway has clarified the threshold for exclusion from refugee status due to participation in a crime.

The question before the Supreme Court was limited to whether an ordinary conscripted soldier, who is not the perpetrator, can be considered to have participated in serious crimes committed by his superiors and other service branches than those to which he was attached.

The lawsuit

The lawsuit involves a Syrian man who served in the Syrian army during the uprising against the Assad regime in the spring of 2011. He participated in actions where the members of the opposition were arrested and handed over to the security forces. Those arrested were later subjected to torture and murder.

UNE argued that his actions as a soldier were so severe that they did not align with refugee status. According to Immigration Act § 31, first paragraph, letter b, cf. the Refugee Convention, Article 1F, letter b. gives the opportunity to deny the right to protection even if the criteria for protection are met.

The verdict

In this case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of UNE. The verdict states that the plaintiff's "active contribution to the arrest and handover of persons who risked being subjected to torture and murder, which the Court of Appeal has found proven, is objectively complicity".

The Supreme Court argues that the exclusion of asylum, should be determined according to international laws as the Refugee Convention and guidelines from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and not national criminal laws.

The verdict can be found here (external link – only in Norwegian).