MP: Refugees Need A Parliamentary Ombudsman - The Reykjavik Grapevine

MP: Refugees Need A Parliamentary Ombudsman

Published January 8, 2016

Photos by
Silje Bergum Kinsten/norden.org

The Directorate of Immigration works against the interests of refugees, a Social Democrat MP contends, who would be better served with an Ombudsman of Refugees fighting for them.

Social Democrat MP Ólína Kjerúlf Þorvarðardóttir is leading a parliamentary proposal to create an official position for the Ombudsman of Refugees. In an interview on radio station Rás 2, she explained why she felt the position was necessary.

Currently, she said, only the Directorate of Immigration handles refugee cases, and this office is in many ways “some kind of police force”.

“It has judicial and investigative powers, which you could say goes against its other role, which is to defend the interests of a refugee, assist them, guide them, and help them through the system,” she said. An ombudsman for these refugees would fulfill that role.

The language of the text also recognises that public opinion is often at odds with how the Directorate of Immigration rules.

“There is clearly a divide between public opinion and executive legal powers on the subject of refugees,” the proposal reads in part. “This divide is widening, and needs to be bridged for the benefit of this matter as a whole.”

The proposal recommends that preparatory investigations for the ombudsman office’s creation be finished before the end of the parliamentary session this June.

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