Reykjavík District Court began proceedings today on the case of a 19-month-old child set to be deported, despite being born in Iceland.
The case is one that sparked considerable public criticism of the Directorate of Immigration (ÚTL). It begins with Nazife and Erion, an Albanian couple who first came to Iceland seeking asylum in 2015. At that time, they received work permits and were employed by a hotel in Reykjavík until they were deported. They returned shortly thereafter and applied for a residence permit, and had to furthermore pay 700,000 ISK to the state—the amount they were charged by the government for their own deportation.
Their daughter, Erna Reka, is 19 months old and was born in Iceland. Despite the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which obliges countries to put the best interests of a child ahead of all else, and despite Article 102 of Iceland’s own Law on Foreigners, which forbids deporting a foreigner who was born in Iceland and had continuous residence here, the entire family was set to be deported.
ÚTL contends that because the child was registered in the National Registry in a different manner than other children, they are exempt from both of these laws. The parents and their lawyer strongly disagree, and decided to take the matter to court.
Claudie Ashonie Wilson, the lawyer for the family, pointed out when the story first broke that the Immigration Appeals Boards made no mention of the rights of the child in their decision to deny their appeal to stay in the country.
“This is naturally, to my mind, a faulty decision,” she said. “You cannot take a decision about the parents but make no mention of the child.”
This possible case of illegal discrimination against the child is not an uncommon occurrence in Iceland. Stundin reports that Minister of Justice Sigríður Á. Andersen, in response to a formal question from Pirate MP Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, has revealed that Iceland has deported 14 children who were born in the country over the past eight years. During the same period, 281 children seeking asylum in Iceland were denied it, and barred from staying in the country.