From Iceland — Asylum Seekers Increase, Changes To Law Examined

Asylum Seekers Increase, Changes To Law Examined

Published January 28, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Julia Staples

The number of asylum seeker applications in Iceland has increased over the past few years, and the Ministry of the Interior has proposed changes to make the process fairer.
Vísir reports that asylum seeker applications increased from 76 in 2011 and 117 in 2012 to 172 last year. This marks an increase of about 130% over the past two years.
At the same time, the number of applications that were accepted was 14 in 2011, 18 in 2012, and 12 in 2013.
Immigration authorities – amongst them, the Ministry of the Interior – have long asserted that they do not have the staff power to process these applications in a timely manner. As a result, very often asylum seekers remain in a state of limbo longer than Article 19 of Dublin Regulation II – of which Iceland is a signatory – legally allows, which is one year.
If the ministry’s bill becomes law, those applying for asylum will receive notice within 48 hours on whether or not their applications will be considered. Moreover, a complaints committee will be established to handle those objecting to application rejections and possible deportations.
Whilst the bill has not yet been voted into law, Margrét Steinarsdóttir, the managing director of the Icelandic Human Rights Centre, called the bill “a big step in the right direction”.

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