Interior Minister Misspeaks On International Law - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Interior Minister Misspeaks On International Law

Published March 20, 2014

Photos by
althingi.is

Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir contended on national television that sometimes the government is “legally compelled” to deport asylum seekers. This contention is not supported by international law.

Appearing on the television show Mín Skoðun (My Opinion), DV reports, Hanna Birna contended that if someone seeking asylum in Iceland has sought asylum in another country, then the Icelandic government is obligated to deport that asylum seeker to their previous point of departure.

Hanna Birna cited the Dublin Regulation to back up her claim. However, the Dublin Regulation makes no such obligation on states to deport asylum seekers. Rather, it gives countries the right to deport asylum seekers back to their previous point of departure within the Schengen Area – but countries are by no means obligated to make this choice.

Iceland’s asylum seeker policies have been the subject of criticism, from both within Iceland and from without. Last October, Pia Prytz Phiri, the Baltic and Nordic Regional Representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), accused Iceland of breaking Article 31 of the Refugee Convention. The possible deportation of an elderly woman has also prompted public criticism, and the case of Nigerian asylum seeker Tony Omos has led to a police investigation of the ministry.

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