The Directorate of Immigration in Iceland (ÚTL) has recently been barred from opening a new shelter for asylum seekers in Reykjavík, Vísir reports.
ÚTL had been renting the top floor of a building in a commercial area of Grafarvogur, just outside downtown Reykjavík, and had been planning on opening a shelter to host about 70 asylum seekers during the last months of 2017. The building, however, was built and registered as a commercial property, which meant that ÚTL had to apply for permission to the City of Reykjavík in order to implement necessary changes in a legal manner.
Although the Reykjavík did not provide permission, the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources granted ÚTL a special exemption to run the shelter in 2017. The owners of the 14 companies renting the building, however tried swiftly to put an end to the project, claiming it would lead to “troubles, disturbances and discomfort for everybody.”
“My clients are first and foremost worried about the fact that all their assets are tied up to this building,” lawyer Lúðvík Örn Steinarsson told RÚV last year. “They believe that issues might arise due to these operations, or that their assets may be impaired by them or become impossible to sell.”
A temporary ban was therefore issued by the District Commissioner of Reykjavík in November 2017, effectively halting all ÚTL’s operations. Finally, a couple of days ago, the District Court of Reykjavík officially ruled in favour of the 14 company owners stating that “regardless of the reasons behind these operations, the shelter is deemed to cause much more disturbance and discomfort than in a building where no commercial activities are in place.”