Interior Minister Satisfied With Immigration Director's Explanation

21.1.2013
Words by Paul Fontaine
Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson told reporters that he was satisfied with his meeting today with the Director of the Directorate of Immigration over some controversial remarks she made last week about asylum seekers.

"We talked about the things that were said last week," Ögmundur told RÚV. "I heard the Director's explanation and she heard my thoughts on the matter. We had a fine meeting, and I told her about my decision to put all asylum seeker processing under special inspection, from the time they arrive in the country until their case is closed."

As reported, Director of the Directorate of Immigration Kristín Völundardóttir told reporters that a long processing time for asylum seeker applications opens the way for people to abuse the system.

"It can be a bit appealing for people who are not exactly asylum seekers, who intend to work illegally or come here for other reasons, to come to Iceland," she said. "It could be a very attractive bonus to get free food and shelter when the application process is so long. People go abroad to get to know the country and its people, and enjoy the services that asylum seekers are offered."

At the time, Ögmundur expressed bewilderment over the remarks, telling reporters, "There is no logic to [these statements], and these are speculations that I consider not at all appropriate. But I intend to ask for a further explanation [for these remarks] soon."

While Ögmundur would not disclose what explanation the Director gave for her remarks at today's meeting, Kristín posted a statement on the Directorate's website last week explaining that her remarks were taken out of context.

"What I was trying to convey was that a longer processing time [for applications] has some consequences," she said. "Unfortunately some individuals will try to take advantage of the services provided asylum seekers. ... The experience in neighbouring countries has shown that the best way to prevent abuse of the system is to make the asylum seeker process faster and more efficient."

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