From Iceland — Justice Minister Promises To Rectify Funding For Immigration Appeals Board

Justice Minister Promises To Rectify Funding For Immigration Appeals Board

Published February 15, 2017

The Minister of Justice told reporters that the government is currently working on a solution to ensure that the Immigration Appeals Board (KNU) will not be left stranded and sorely lacking in funds.

As reported, despite a plea for a budget increase due to an ever-increasing number of asylum applications, Parliament only allocated about half the funds KNU had asked for. As such, they have been compelled to reduce their numbers from 19 to only six board members, and they believe processing times for asylum applications will soon greatly increase.

This, RÚV reports, Minister of Justice Sigríður Á. Andersen means to rectify.

Sigríður told reporters that her ministry and the Ministry of Finance have been long aware of the situation, and they are currently working on a solution to ensure that processing times will not increase, and that KNU will be able to do their work well.

“I think everyone agrees that this was a poorly thought-out budget that was passed before Christmas,” she said. “But there is a strong political will within this government and this ministry and of course the Ministry of Finance to ensure efficiency and short processing times.”

According to yesterday’s statement from KNU, there were 1,130 applications for asylum last year; about three times the number that there were the year previous. In response, in 2016 Parliament voted to increase the number of board members and increase their budget.

Despite this, the annual budget for 2017 has only allocated about half of the funds KNU asked for in order to keep processing times below 90 days, as they had been asked to do. In fact, the average wait time for a decision from KNU during the last three months of last year was 78 days; down from over 300 days when KNU was formed about two years ago.

KNU believes they need an additional 140 million ISK in order to maintain this wait time, which they argue is considerably less than the cost of housing asylum seekers over the long term as they await a decision. They point out that the government’s own policy regarding asylum seekers aimed for more humane, which included shorter waiting periods.

However, this goal cannot be maintained with their funding reduced, and as such, KNU will have to reduce their numbers, which may bring with it longer waiting periods for those seeking asylum in Iceland.

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