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 Confederation of Icelandic Labour Unions (ASÍ) has released a statement saying there is “no foundation for further discussion” with the government if their new budget bill passes. The statement, posted on ASÍ’s website, calls the new budget bill “an attack on working people”, saying that the Central Committee of the labour union was “deeply disappointed” with the proposals in the budget. “[The Central Committee] believes there is no basis for continued cooperation with the government if the budget bill becomes law,” the statement reads in part. ASÍ’s criticisms are numerous. They are particularly dissatisfied of the proposed raising of
While there has been considerable reporting on the effects of SO2 on humans, animals are even more at risk. RÚV reports that farmers in the Icelandic countryside are worried about what effects the gas will have on their sheep, many of whom have not yet been herded. While a great many animals in the east and the north – where the pollution has been greatest – have been rounded up, their still remain a great many behind, grazing in the mountains. Some farmers have reported that even the rounding-up itself is made more difficult by the pollution, as horses get
Police are already starting to crack down on black market rentals of houses and apartments for tourists. MBL reports that the Reykjavík Area Police, in conjunction with the Directorate of Internal Revenue, have closed four establishments illegally renting out accommodation to tourists. These properties, identified as “homes and apartments”, had no permit to rent out the rooms for this purpose. Authorities combed over advertisements in newspapers, social media, and sites such as AirBnB through August and September, comparing the properties advertised and seeing whether or not they had the legal right to offer guest accommodation. In addition, tax records were
After damn near revolutionizing Reykjavík drinking culture via the beloved Appy Hour app, The Reykjavík Grapevine team has created a new thingamajig that will hopefully prove just as useful for the denizens of Reykjavík and their guests. The new app is called Craving, and has the purpose of granting hungry people freedom from having to spend hours pondering where to go for lunch or dinner. Of course, taking time to carefully deliberate where one’s next meal should come from is a wholly enjoyable endeavour, but as those of us who frequently dine out in 101 Reykjavík (and are generally spoilt for choice)
The Nordic Literature Prize, which is given out annually to authors for novels in a Nordic language, will henceforth be headquartered in Reykjavík’s Nordic House, reports Vísir. Day-to-day management of the Nordic Literature Prize will be handled by the Nordic House, though it is uniquely placed to do so as it already houses an extensive Nordic language library. The prize has been awarded since 1962 for a work of imaginative literature written in one of the Nordic languages. In all, 7 Icelandic authors have won the prize since it began in 1962. The most recent Icelandic author to win was
Chinese Ambassador to Iceland Ma Jisheng and his wife have been arrested by Chinese authorities on suspicion of espionage, reports the Global Post. As reported, Ma Jisheng, who has been China’s ambassador to Iceland since 2012, left Iceland on January 23 of this year. By all accounts, he was expected to come back the following March. However, Ma Jisheng never returned, and neither Icelandic nor Chinese authorities would comment on his whereabouts. Reuters reports that Ma is suspected of becoming a Japanese spy while working in the Chinese embassy in Tokyo between 2004 and 2008. Asked whether the reports were