From Iceland — Immigration Directorate: "No Reason" To Review Asylum Cases

Immigration Directorate: “No Reason” To Review Asylum Cases

Published October 20, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Arpingstone/Wikimedia Commons

The Directorate of Immigration has defended their decision to deport two families from Iceland, but their rulings may run contrary to international and local law.

Stöð 2 news caught up with Directorate of Immigration Director Kristín Völundardóttir, Vísir reports, and asked if the Directorate was going to reconsider its recent decision to deport two families – one from Albania and the other from Syria – who have applied for asylum in Iceland.

Kristín, who in 2013 contended that some asylum seekers are merely “asylum shoppers” who apply for asylum only because it is “a very attractive bonus to get free food and shelter when the application process is so long“, told reporters that the Directorate will not review its decisions.

In the case of the Albania family, she said that they were being deported because Albania “is a peaceful, democratic country.” Apart from Amnesty International’s 2013 report on the country, which expresses grave concerns about the use of torture by law enforcement, the Albanian family in question contend their lives have been threatened due to family connections with the former Communist Party.

In the case of the Syrian family, she reiterated that the family have already been granted asylum in Greece. In addition to the Minister of the Interior having already said Greece is an unsafe place to live for refugees and asylum seekers, the family in question have repeatedly said they would be homeless if they lived in Greece. They know no one there, and jobs are not exactly plentiful in that country at the moment.

The Directorate not only does have the authority to grant asylum to both families; international and local law appears to require and encourage it.

Article 22 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – of which Iceland is a signatory – states:

1. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that a child who is seeking refugee status or who is considered a refugee in accordance with applicable international or domestic law and procedures shall, whether unaccompanied or accompanied by his or her parents or by any other person, receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance in the enjoyment of applicable rights set forth in the present Convention and in other international human rights or humanitarian instruments to which the said States are Parties.

As the Directorate declined to examine the cases of both families, the Convention may have been violated by the Directorate’s decision.

Further, Article 12(f) of Iceland’s own Act On Foreigners states in part:

A temporary residence permit may be granted on the basis of humanitarian reasons if a foreign national can demonstrate an urgent need for protection, e.g. for health reasons, or due to the difficult social circumstances of the person concerned or due to difficult general circumstances in the person’s home state or in a country to which he/she would be sent, or due to other events for which he/she cannot rightly be held responsible. Special consideration shall be given to cases where children are involved and a decision taken with a view to what is best for the child.

At the time of this writing, over 10,000 Icelanders have signed a petition calling upon the Directorate to reverse its decision and allow the Albanian family to stay. Another petition, started around the same time, for the Syrian family has just under 4,000 signatures at the time of this writing.

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