An Albanian family has been denied the right to appeal their impending deportation in court, in possible violation of domestic and international law.
Vísir reports that the family, which includes three children, came to Iceland last year, seeking asylum from political persecution in their home countries. There are also two children with serious medical conditions, but the entire family have established ties in Iceland – the kids are all registered in school, they have made plenty of friends, and the parents want the right to seek employment.
However, the Directorate of Immigration rejected their application last October, announcing their deportation. The family in turn appealed the matter to the Immigration Appeals Board, who also rejected their application. They have sought to delay their deportation until they can have their case heard in Icelandic court, but they have been denied this as well.
Björg Valgeirsdóttir, the lawyer for the family, believes this is in violation of the Icelandic constitution and Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). Björg spoke with the Grapevine on the matter to explain the case further.
As the family will be abroad during any legal proceedings of their case in Iceland, she points out that this violates Article 70 of the Icelandic constitution, which grants everyone the right to a fair trial.
“Speaking to the court over the phone is not the same as being able to arrive in court, in person, and plead your case,” she told us. “This can have a negative effect on their case. Further, they would not be able to meet in person with their counsel. This would as well put them in a disadvantaged position and decrease their chances of having a fair trial.”
In addition, deporting them before their case can be heard in a court of law also violates Protocol 7, Article 1 of the ECHR, which protects asylum seekers from deportation until such time as they are “represented for these purposes [of having their case reviewed] before the competent authority or a person or persons designated by that authority.”
On top of all this, Article 12f of the Act on Foreigners grants Icelandic authorities the right to grant a residence permit on humanitarian grounds, such as for health reasons, due to the difficult social circumstances of the applicant, or due to difficult general circumstances in the applicant’s home state, adding, “Special consideration shall further be given to cases where children are involved and a decision taken with a view to what is best for the child.”
“You ask yourself, what does it take?,” she told us. “I can come to no other conclusion that the Directorate simply chose to not apply their ability to grant residence permits for humanitarian reasons.”
The case is very similar to that of two Albanian families who were deported last December, only to be granted citizenship after widespread public outcry. Their cases also involved children with health problems and political persecution back home.
Their deportations prompted the Parliamentary Ombudsman to demand an explanation regarding how their cases were processed. The deadline for a response ran out on February 1. It is unknown how or if the Directorate responded.