From Iceland — Asylum Seeker Applying For Citizenship, Minister Says Asylum Laws To Be Reviewed

Asylum Seeker Applying For Citizenship, Minister Says Asylum Laws To Be Reviewed

Published April 4, 2011

An asylum seeker from Nepal is now seeking citizenship, just days after learning she may be deported. The government minister overseeing immigration matters says laws regarding asylum need to be reviewed.
As the Grapevine reported, 23-year-old Priyanka Thapa, originally from Nepal but seeking asylum in Iceland, now faces the possibility of being sent back to her home country where a forced marriage awaits her. Her application for asylum was rejected by the Directorate of Immigration on the grounds that a letter from her brother – wherein he asks Priyanka to return – somehow indicates that she would be free to say no to the marriage.
The matter has sparked a strong groundswell of support for Priyanka, as a Facebook group supporting her is, at the time of this writing, at about 13,000 members.
Priyanka’s lawyer, Sigurður Örn Hilmarsson, now tells Vísir that they intend to apply for Icelandic citizenship.
“We intend to go all the way to ensure she gets to stay in this country,” he said in part. “We believe her circumstances are so special that first of all, she deserves to get a residence permit to stay here and furthermore, that these circumstances justify her getting Icelandic citizenship.”
While Priyanka does not qualify for citizenship in the most basic conditions of immigration law, Sigurður Örn points out that parliament can pass laws granting an individual person citizenship, and has in fact done so twice before.
In related news, Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson told Morgunblaðið that Priyanka’s case underlines the need for the regulations on asylum seeking to be reviewed.
As it is, requests for asylum are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but Iceland turns away the vast majority of those applying; only a handful have ever been awarded asylum, sometimes after much public outcry in support.

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