From Iceland — Immigration Directorate Suppressing Coverage Of Asylum Seekers

Immigration Directorate Suppressing Coverage Of Asylum Seekers

Published May 21, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Video has emerged showing security at a home for asylum seekers threatening reporters with the police and sending them packing. The Directorate of Immigration (UTL) reportedly later tried to block the footage from being aired.

Nútíminn reports that RÚV’s news analysis show Hæpið recently paid a visit to Arnarholt, a home for asylum seekers in Reykjavík, in the hopes of interviewing the residents on their experiences so far. This interview was cut short by a security guard, who told them that the faces of asylum seekers appearing in public will automatically result in their asylum applications being denied. The reporters in question, Katrín Ásmundsdóttir and Unnstein Manuel Stefánsson, were also threatened with police action if they did not leave at once, despite having express permission from the asylum seekers involved to be interviewed.

(Video source: Nútíminn)

Stundin reports that, according to their sources, UTL contacted RÚV shortly after this incident. Rather than issuing an apology, UTL instead demanded that the footage not be aired.

When contacted for comment, UTL Director Kristín Völundardóttir affirmed that they did try to suppress the release of the footage, citing “privacy issues” as the reason.

UTL has been under sustained criticism for their treatment of asylum seekers. While Kristín contends that UTL is just following the law, the institution has applied the law inconsistently, sometimes even contrary to international agreements on refugees and asylum seekers. UTL has handled many cases questionably enough to warrant the Parliamentary Ombudsman to launch a formal inquiry.

For her part, Kristín has gone on the record saying that asylum seekers include people who engage in “asylum shopping”; traveling from country to country looking for the most benefits they can get, and that it is “a very attractive bonus to get free food and shelter” while waiting on an asylum application to be processed. Kristín has never offered evidence for this claim, nor apologised or retracted it.


It’s Time To Close The Directorate Of Immigration

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