Refugees Protest in Front of Parliament - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Refugees Protest in Front of Parliament

Published April 16, 2009

A refugee’s rights group, in part consisting of refugees, held a protest in front of parliament yesterday.
The protestors object to the Icelandic government’s almost entirely one-sided use of the Dublin Accord, an international agreement (of which Iceland is a signatory) which gives governments the right to return refugees to the last country which granted them a visa. Of important note, however, is that governments are not obliged to deport refugees to their previous point of departure; they are simply permitted to do so.
The exercising of the Dublin Accord in Iceland has insured that authorities can turn away virtually anyone seeking asylum in Iceland. Because there are no direct flights to Iceland from war-torn areas, there are always places where asylum seekers must stop first before heading onwards to Iceland. These final stepping-off points before arriving in Iceland are where nearly all refugees are returned to.
The practice has become problematic, however, as a group from Albania, Afghanistan and Iraq could be sent back to Greece. Deporting asylum seekers to Greece is something the UN has been advising against lately, as refugees there are allegedly not treated humanely, and many Iraqi refugees are sent back to Iraq.
The
most famous example of an asylum seeker who feel prey to the Dublin Accord in Iceland would be the case of Paul Ramses, a Kenyan who
sought asylum in Iceland but was sent to Italy, as that was the country
of origin of his last visa. The deportation gained national attention,
as he was separated from his wife and infant child still in Iceland.
The Ministry of Justice reviewed the case at the behest of a national
outcry, and he was brought back to Iceland.
A statement from the protestors to the media reads in part: “We demand that the Icelandic government stop abusing the Dublin Accord. … These countries which Iceland sends these asylum seekers are dense with thousands of refugees, many of whom will never see their application dealt with. … We always want to remind people that there are people still waiting in Njarðvík [where a guesthouse for refugees is located], between hope and fear, to live a humane life.”
(Photo: Morgunblaðið)


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