Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson says he has no intention of punishing refugees who attempt to stow away on ships in Icelandic harbours, despite strong warnings from the United States.
There have been around a dozen cases this year of asylum seekers in Iceland attempting to sneak onto ships docked at Sundahöfn harbour in Reykjavík. The matter has caught the attention of US authorities, who have sternly warned Iceland that they may raise security levels on Icelandic ships on their way to the US if the government does not take more proactive measures.
Vísir reports that despite this warning, Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson says he has no plans to punish asylum seekers for attempting to stow away.
Ögmundur told reporters that he sees no reason to engage in any special punishments for asylum seekers who make such an attempt, adding that Icelandic authorities and workers at the harbour are already doing all they can to ensure the integrity of Icelandic ships.
The minister’s comments were in direct response to an opinion piece penned by shipping company Eimskip director Gylfi Sigfússon in Fréttablaðið, wherein he accused the government of putting Icelandic ships in danger of having to undergo more rigorous security checks in American ports.