An asylum seeker family, including a pregnant mother in need of medical care and a 18-month-old boy, were suddenly deported from Iceland this morning. While the family knew their deportation was pending, police called them yesterday evening and told them to pack. They were then taken into custody, and deported this morning.
In a post on Facebook this morning, Sema Erla Serdar, the chair of the asylum seeker rights group Solaris, shared how “the Icelandic government is again guilty of cruelty and inhumane treatment of people seeking asylum”.
The family is comprised of Sobo Anwar Hasan, a 24-year-old woman from Iran who is also six months pregnant and in need of medical attention due to persistent bleeding; Nasr Mohammed Rahim, a 26-year-old man from Iraq, and their son Leo. Sobo and Nasr married against the wishes of their families, and fled the region after terrorists reportedly tried to enlist Nasr. They first attempted to get asylum in Germany, but were rejected, and traveled on to Iceland instead.
Icelandic authorities, as they very often do, invoked the Dublin Regulation in their case; an international treaty that gives signatory governments the power to deport asylum seekers back to their previous point of departure if they had applied for asylum elsewhere. Sema told reporters that she believes it very likely that Germany will in turn deport them back to Iran or Iraq, where their fate will be precarious at best.
The fact that they were taken into police custody before they were deported may be in violation of Article 2 of this same regulation. A recent court ruling points out Article 2 of the Regulation, which states that detaining someone slated for deportation is only justifiable if there is reason to believe the asylum seeker may abscond, i.e., flee and go into hiding. In fact, Article 28 of that same Regulation states clearly: “Member States shall not hold a person in detention for the sole reason that he or she is subject to the procedure established by this Regulation.”
“Once again [the government] is guilty of abusing obsolete regulations to avoid shouldering responsibility of doing their part to resolve one of the greatest humanitarian crises in history,” Sema writes. “You put the nation in last place when it comes to protecting children seeking asylum. You can’t even take care of an 18-month-old boy. May you forever be ashamed. This is not over.”
In fact, nearly 4,000 Icelanders have signed a petition calling upon authorities to grant this family asylum. The petition cites, amongst other sources, Iceland’s Law on Foreigners, which states in part: “A decision involving a child will always being taken with the best interests of the child as the primary focus.”