From Iceland — Parliamentarians Argue Over Deported Albanian Family

Parliamentarians Argue Over Deported Albanian Family

Published December 11, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Anna Andersen

Members of parliament have been speaking up about an Albanian family that was deported yesterday, and strong opinions have held forth. Meanwhile, the Interior Minister has absolved herself of any responsibility over the matter.

Vísir reports that Social Democrat MP Ólína Þorvarðardóttir brought up the issue today, pointing out that members of parliament have received thousands of letters from the general public expressing rage and sorrow over two Albanian families being deported back to their home countries yesterday, despite one of them fleeing death threats from a crime syndicate in Albania and both having children in desperate need of medical attention.

Ólína said the matter shows a distinct gap between public opinion of asylum seekers and the treatment said asylum seekers are made to endure by the Directorate of Immigration. To remedy this, she said, Iceland’s asylum seeker policy needs to be reviewed.

Social Democrat MP Katrín Júlíusdóttir and Independence Party MP Brynjar Níelsson were guests on Rás 2 radio this morning, RÚV reports, to discuss the matter. The two MPs disagreed in their outlook on the matter.

Bryjnar told listeners that while he understands people are emotional about the matter, bad things could await if cases like the Albanian families’ are treated differently.

“What do people think will happen to the system if we open our arms to just whoever?,” he asked. “There would be no system, and no health care system, either. I say as the President did [about Muslims] – this is a childish simplification.”

Katrín disagreed strongly, pointing out that the law actually requires authorities to judge each asylum seeker case on its own merits. It should also be added that Iceland has the legal authority to grant people asylum for humanitarian reasons, as per Article 12f of the Act On Foreigners.

“People hide behind the notion that we’ve made some kind of list, categories and criteria, and that’s why we don’t need to judge each case on its own,” she said. “And they say that we are childishly simplifying things and would perpetuate the downfall of the Icelandic health care system because people would just pour in here. Of course that is not the case. We are talking about people of flesh and blood, a tiny number of people in the context of those who travel the world, who choose to come to Iceland.”

Meanwhile, nearly 6,000 people have signed a petition calling for Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal to resign. Her Ministry oversees the Directorate of Immigration, but she told RÚV that she has no power over cases the Directorate of Immigration handles.

While she told reporters she trusts the opinion of the Directorate of Immigration that these children can receive the health care they need in Albania, Vísir points out that this is far from the case – in fact, very sick children are often left to die.

She added, though, that she was prepared to talk to parliament over the matter.

“It is of course a very difficult case, and probably the most difficult case that the Directorate of Immigration has handled,” she said. “I have always found that when a face is put on these people, then it becomes very difficult.”

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