From Iceland — Protest At Interior Ministry

Protest At Interior Ministry

Published February 18, 2016

About 60 people gathered at the Ministry of the Interior to protest the impending deportation of three asylum seekers. Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal was not present, but ministry staff accepted written statements from involved parties.

As reported, Christian Kwaku Boadi (shown above) is one of three asylum seekers who are facing deportation to Italy. Despite the decision to deport the three back to Italy, Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal told parliament last September that Greece, Italy and Hungary are “not considered secure countries. It would not be safe to send asylum seekers back there”.

The case has sparked widespread public outcry, not solely because of Ólöf’s statements to parliament that contradict the deportation decision, but also because all three asylum seekers have valid work and residence permits in Iceland, have lived here for years, and have established societal ties to the country. In the wake of this decision, about 60 people – representing No Borders, Ekki fleiri brottvísanir (“No more deportations”), the National Queer Organisation and others – gathered at the Interior Ministry to protest, and to deliver written statements to the Minister.

Protestors then moved into the Ministry lobby, where they awaited Ólöf to accept written statements. Ministry staff informed the protestors that the Minister was not present in the office today, and they were greeted instead by members of her staff. They were not able to answer questions regarding who made the deportation decision, nor why the Minister’s own assessment regarding deportations to Italy was ignored by the Directorate of Immigration, which works under the Ministry.

“The Directorate of Immigration denied both of them substantial review of their cases on the grounds that they were already granted asylum in Italy,” a statement from the National Queer Organisation reads in part. “Nothing waits for them in Italy, neither work nor shelter nor a social safety net, and in their home countries their lives are directly threatened. It must also be pointed out that in Italy, homosexuals still experience a high level of prejudice, even attacks, due to their orientation, and this is exacerbated by them being refugees.”

Ekki fleiri brottvísanir had some pointed questions of their own for the Minister, asking in part of their written statement:

“As you said in parliament last fall, Italy is not a safe country for asylum seekers. You said that people would not be sent there. What can you do, and what will you do, to stop these deportations?”

A response from the Minister is still pending.

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