A law Denmark is considering that has been criticised around the world is already on the books in Iceland: police can seize a foreigner’s valuables in order to pay for their detention and deportation.
Denmark has recently been making international headlines (1, 2, 3) for proposing a change to their law on foreigners that would give the police the power to seize, amongst other things, jewellery and cash from refugees in order to cover expenses.
As the proposal is being met with criticism around the world, Kjarninn reports that a similar law is already in place in Iceland.
As stated in Article 56 on the Act On Foreigners:
A foreigner deported from Iceland under this Act shall pay the costs of his departure. The foreigner shall also pay the costs of detention when this is necessary on account of his failure to leave Iceland of his own accord. The claim for this cost may be collected by distraint [ed. note: seizure of property], and may also provide grounds for denial of entry under Article 18, the first paragraph, subparagraph (h), on later arrival in Iceland. Police may seize travel tickets to be used for departure, that may be found in a foreigner’s possession. The same shall apply to monies for the payment of claims in connection with the costs of his departure and custody under this provision.
A revision to the Act On Foreigners was recently passed in parliament. However, no changes were made on this subject. As such, refugees and asylum seekers who are subsequently arrested and deported may find it costing them what little money they may have.
While lawyer Árni Helgason has pointed out that this part of the Act on Foreigners has never been enforced, to his knowledge, he emphasised that it is still encoded in Icelandic law.