Norwegian ex-minister forced migrants to have sex
A 72-year-old Norwegian ex-minister has been convicted of abusing his power to force three young men seeking asylum to have sex with him.
The abuse took place in Ludvigsen’s home and country house, in hotel rooms and at his office, the victims told the court.
The court heard that Ludvigsen gave the men the false impression that as governor of Troms, in Norway’s far north, he had the power to decide asylum status.
The abuse took place between 2011 and 2017 with one saying he was 17 when he met Ludvigsen. Another was said to have a mild intellectual impaired.
The three witnesses, now aged 25, 26 and 34, told the court that Ludvigsen convinced them he could deport them or offer permanent residency depending on whether they consented to sex.
During the trial, Ludvigsen admitted to having sex with one of the men but claimed it was consensual. The politician also admitted to lying to police about it. He denied having sex with the other two.
Human rights groups said the case represented an extreme example of a wider problem of mistreatment of migrants.
Asylum seekers are often left in limbo awaiting decisions on their citizenship claims.
Migrant numbers to Europe have dropped dramatically since 2015 when the highest number of people was recorded with more than a million arrivals. In 2018, Europe saw an influx of 140,000 and,
by early June this year, fewer than 30,000 arrived.
“The verdict is important, and shows the vulnerability of young unaccompanied asylum-seekers and refugees,” said Ann-Magrit Austena of the Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers. She condemned Ludvigsen’s “violent breach of trust”.
Ludvigsen was the fisheries minister in a centre-right government from 2001 to 2005 and as governor of Troms from 2006 until his retirement in 2014.
Ludvigsen to pay his victims damages totalling 743,000 Norwegian kroner (around US$83,000).
Ludvigsen’s lawyer, Kai Vaag, said they would appeal against the conviction. The former governor’s prison term will not start until the appeal process is completed, which will last until at least 2020.
Migration remains a sensitive issue in Norway. The return rates of Ethiopians from Norway fell from 11 per cent in 2012 when the two states reached an informal return agreement, to 9 per cent in 2017.
Troms. Picture credit: Wikimedia