A new report from the Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission (ECRI) says that Iceland should be doing more to combat discrimination, in part by granting permission for Muslims to build a mosque and by filling in gaps in current immigration legislation. The report also believes that the law should include a “provision that expressly considers the racist motivation of an offence as a specific aggravating circumstance.” Some key elements from the report include:
Iceland has not established a specialised body to combat racism and discrimination based on “race”, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin. The Multicultural and Information Centre, which is now responsible for providing assistance and services to immigrants, is located in the extreme north-west of the country; this means that most immigrants no longer have easy access to specialised support services. Changes to the Icelandic Nationality Act mean that the repeated commission of petty offences for which a fine is prescribed can definitively exclude a person from obtaining Icelandic citizenship. While the conditions for citizenship now also include passing Icelandic language tests, funding for language classes for foreigners has been cut. The media frequently disclose the citizenship or ethnic origin of persons suspected of criminal activity although it bears no relevance to the case. One television channel and some Internet sites engage in hate speech against Muslims. The Muslim communities in Iceland still do not have permission to build mosques in which to worship, despite one application pending for more than 12 years. Pupils of immigrant background have a significantly higher drop out rate from secondary school than Icelandic pupils. Asylum seekers still have no possibility to appeal to an independent and impartial judicial mechanism empowered to consider the merits of the case. Not all children in the asylum procedure have access to compulsory school education. There is still no mechanism for the investigation of allegations of police misconduct which is independent of the police and prosecution authorities.
ECRI publishes a report each year on the progress different European countries are making when it comes to fighting racism. Iceland’s full report can be read here.
The numbers are in for the 8th annual seal census. In all 706 seals were spotted in a 100 km stretch of beach in northwest Iceland, reports RÚV. “We counted 706 this year which is similar to last year,” said biologist Sandra Granquist. “We counted 705-707 last year so [the numbers have] been pretty much the same in the last 3 years.” The census was conducted by employees of The Icelandic Seal Centre as well as a number of volunteers who arrived in the early hours of Sunday morning to help count. The census helps scientists keep track of how many seals are in the
A severe shortage of nurses in Iceland is expected in coming years, reports RÚV. Ólafur G. Skúlason, chairman of the Icelandic Nurses’s Association, estimates that roughly 900 of the 2800 nurses working today will retire within the next 3 years. At the same time only 400 nursing students will graduate and many seek other jobs due to the heavy workload and poor wages. Additionally, the demand for nurses is increasing quickly with the ageing population. To respond to the shortage Ólafur told mbl.is that it was important to encourage men to become nurses, not only to bolster numbers but because they
A single cruise ship in Reykjavík harbour releases as much pollution as 10,000 cars, in part due to a lack of necessary equipment on the part of harbour authorities. Vísir reports that 90 cruise ships, carrying over 100,000 passengers, have come to Iceland so far this year. The number of cruise ships is expected to increase to 100 next year. When a cruise ship docks in harbour, it leaves its generators running continuously. In a single 24-hour period, one cruise ship burns enough oil to equal the pollution from 10,000 cars. There is a common solution at hand – but
Iran and Iceland are currently exploring economic ties with each other, and looking for ways to broaden them. PressTV reports that Director of the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran Valiollah Afkhami-Rad and Iceland’s Accredited Ambassador to Tehran Gunnar Pálsson have been in talks to review what the two countries could offer each other. Afkhami-Rad, while indicating that Iran’s new government has help the country begin to build more trade partners, said that Iceland could be a viable country to do business with. In particular, he mentioned scientific collaboration over fisheries, hydroelectric power, green energy, geology and tourism. Pálsson reportedly has
It looks very unlikely that Iceland will cut political ties with Israel, going by what the previous and current Foreign Ministers have said on the subject. While the Foreign Affairs Committee will soon meet to discuss what the Icelandic government will do in response to the attacks on Gaza, one option is vanishingly unlikely: the cutting of political ties, despite public support for such a move. DV points out that the previous Minister of Foreign Affairs, Össur Skarphéðinsson, told parliament in November 2012 that he had met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and numerous foreign ministers from Middle Eastern countries.
Annie Mist Þórisdóttir finished 2nd overall in the 2014 CrossFit Games despite a back injury which threatened to keep her from competing as a Crossfit athlete for the rest of her life, reports RX Review. During a press conference after the win, Annie shared the story of her emotional recovery; how the injury left her legs numb for 6 months and unable to lift weights for a year. Despite all this plus a year and a half break from the Crossfit circuit she managed to finish just short of winner Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, showing the world Annie is still a force to be reckoned