When Has Iceland Seized Valuables From Refugees?, MP Asks - The Reykjavik Grapevine

When Has Iceland Seized Valuables From Refugees?, MP Asks

Published January 28, 2016

Photos by
Art Bicnick

An alternate MP wants to know how often Iceland has used an existing law similar to the one recently passed in Denmark, which allows police to seize valuables found on refugees trying to enter the country.

While the newly-passed Danish law has sparked considerable criticism from around the world, Iceland already has a similar law on the books: Article 56 of the Act on Foreigners. This article gives police the power to take cash, valuables, return flight tickets and property from refugees and asylum seekers in order to pay, amongst other things, for their detention and deportation.

Vísir reports that Left-Green alternate MP Rósa Björk Brynjólfsdóttir has filed a formal question to Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal on the matter. Specifically, Rósa has requested information on how many times this law has been used, and how much money the state seized from the application of this law.

“We should, as a nation, not want to get anywhere near what Denmark is doing,” Rósa Björk told reporters. “People who come here seeking asylum seldom have much, and there is a legal article which permits shaking down asylum seekers for various state expenditures with their application, which seems to permit shaking them down for legal work or the assistance of the state. I find that pretty low, and am interested to see whether this legal authority has been used.”

As reported, lawyer Árni Helgason does not believe the law has ever been enforced. Nonetheless, police in Iceland still have the authority to use it.

A response from the Interior Minister is still pending.

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