Police in Suðurnes object to a proposed change to Icelandic immigration law which would, if passed, follow international law and cease arresting asylum seekers who arrive in Iceland with false passports.
The bill, submitted by the Left-Greens, proposes a number of changes to existing immigration law in Iceland. Amongst them is the proposal to stop arresting asylum seekers who arrive with false passports. The proposed change would mean Iceland would no longer be breaking Article 31 of the Refugee Convention, which states:
“The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.”
However, Suðurnes chief of police Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir objected to the proposed change, saying in part, “Many of those who seek asylum here do not have the intention of seeking said asylum until authorities get involved, and in a few instances [those seeking asylum] have only been here for a few days but are stopped on their way out of the country, often on the way to Canada, and then ask for asylum.” She added that she believes Iceland is already fulfilling its obligations where Article 31 is concerned.
It should be noted, though, that it is not the police who decide whether or not an asylum seeker is a “real” asylum seeker or not – that is the role of the Directorate of Immigration and the Ministry of the Interior.
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