Jakob Frímann Magnússon has (sort of) apologised for his remarks about Bulgarians and Romenians, while Bubbi Morthens defends Jakob’s previous statements. Both of these guys completely miss the point.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote an open letter to Jakob Frímann Magnússon in his response to saying that immigration authorities should build special safeguards against Bulgarians and Romanians, as these countries are allegedly hotbeds of organised crime. This is despite the fact that actual crime statistics show a decline in murder and armed robbery in these two countries, while western European countries have the highest overall crime rates.
Jakob has responded. While apologising to me and “those I know I have hurt with my choice of words”, he goes on to essentially repeat himself; that Bulgaria and Romania are rife with organised crime, implying that we need to be especially wary of people from these two countries. If fighting organised crime were the point, then nationality wouldn’t even enter into this discussion.
Musician Bubbi Morthens makes an argument which unintentionally proves my point. Here, he cites his oft-cited connections with the Icelandic underworld, and attests baselessly that Icelandic criminals are especially afraid of criminals from Lithuania, Poland and Romenia. “And if they’re scared, what about those of us who consider ourselves common citizens!,” he wails.
Jakob and Bubbi are making the very common mistake of confusing a police matter with an immigration matter. You fight organised crime by focusing on criminals. When we’re talking about crime on an international scale, we do this by improving the lines of communication between law enforcement officials in different countries. A police unit in one country can send a bulletin to law enforcement officials across Europe to watch for and apprehend a fugitive. This bulletin is in turn sent to border police and local law enforcement.
This method of fighting organised crime saves money, saves time, saves police resources, and actually does the job it is supposed to do. This is how Interpol works, for example. By casting a broad net of suspicion towards an entire nationality, you waste time, waste money, waste manpower and – ironically enough – create enough red tape to actually help real criminals slip through the cracks.
On a related note, it should be pointed out that Iceland’s extradition laws – which specify that we will not extradite anyone to any country outside of Scandinavia – has helped ensure that the men who committed the robbery at the Michelsen watch store last month will go free. In essence, Iceland’s own isolationist extradition law makes its own citizens less safe. If Icelandic authorities are serious about fighting organised crime and protecting its citizens, then they need to begin cooperating more fully with other European countries.
Fighting organised crime begins with focusing on actual, proven criminals; not nationalities, and it solidifies by cooperating with the rest of Europe; not shutting ourselves off from it.