"I Thought The Icelandic Government Wouldn't Break Its Own Laws" - The Reykjavik Grapevine

“I Thought The Icelandic Government Wouldn’t Break Its Own Laws”

Published May 31, 2018

A Hazara youth, Abbas Ali, whose asylum case has sat in the system in Iceland for one year and three weeks, has been informed that he will be deported on the basis of the Dublin Regulation, despite the fact that by law, the Dublin Regulation is supposed to no longer apply if a case has been in the system for a year or more. The Directorate of Immigration (UTL) contends that Abbas has himself delayed his case, but neither he nor his lawyer believe UTL’s contentions hold water. This case was brought to Grapevine’s attention by No Borders Iceland.

When Abbas came to Iceland, he was an unaccompanied youth under the age of 18. His family fled to Pakistan from Afghanistan when he was a child. Hazaras are a persecuted ethnic minority in Afghanistan, and Iceland has granted protections for Hazara people before.

“They [my family] were hoping that I could help them come to Europe,” Abbas says. “But when I learned how difficult family reunification is there they told me to try my best to make a better life for myself, and help them in some other way.”

UTL was, as usual, suspicious of Abbas’ contentions about his age and asked him to prove it by undergoing a dental examination, a procedure that has been consistently proven to have no scientific basis in determining age, and concluded that he was 19 years old. Even after he retrieved his birth certificate from Afghanistan, UTL was not satisfied with this document, either, conducting their own investigation that took about six months. Despite UTL’s own delay, they put the blame on Abbas for how long the case has stretched out. The Immigration Appeals Board, however, has not reached this conclusion, and so his case is technically ongoing – even while his deportation is still set to go on.

“I knew that there were strict laws about foreigners in Iceland, but I also thought that the Icelandic government wouldn’t break its own laws. Now I don’t understand anything that’s happening.”

Abbas is due to be deported to Norway, where he was already denied asylum. From there, he will be deported to Kabul, where he knows no one.

“Living on the streets of Kabul is not like living on the streets in Norway,” Abbas says. “In Kabul, people on the street are robbed, beaten, boys are raped. I absolutely cannot go there. I will try to smuggle myself into Pakistan, to my family, but this is difficult. Afghanistan is a war zone.”

Abbas’ lawyer has submitted that his case be taken up again, as Icelandic law specifically details that the Dublin Regulation cannot be applied to cases that have been in the system for a year or more. UTL contends that Abbas deliberately delayed matters himself, despite following all of UTL’s instructions about retrieving documents from abroad. As such, his deportation is still pending.

For the record, this marks the third case in only a week where an asylum seeker is denied this 12-month right, and is given 24 hours notice that they will be deported.

“I was rather hopeless when Norway said no, and now Iceland, too,” Abbas says. “But when I learned about this 12-month rule I had a small amount of hope, because I knew that there were strict laws about foreigners in Iceland, but I also thought that the Icelandic government wouldn’t break its own laws. Now I don’t understand anything that’s happening.”

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