From Iceland — Impending Child Deportations From Iceland Troubling, Defy International Law, UNICEF Says

Impending Child Deportations From Iceland Troubling, Defy International Law, UNICEF Says

Published July 2, 2019

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Two impending deportations are in direct violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF says, and not for the first time. One of these deportations has been temporarily delayed because a psychiatrist says one of the children in question is experiencing levels of stress and anxiety too high to make air travel safe.

There are two impending deportations involving children that are currently garnering criticism. In one case, Shahnaz Safari and her two children, Zainab and Amir, aged 14 and 12, who are set to be deported to Greece next week. In the other case, there is Asadullah Sarwary and his sons Mahdi and Ali, aged 9 and 12, also slated to be deported to Greece.

In the latter case, one of Asadullah’s sons experienced a psychological breakdown over the impending deportation and was taken to a children’s hospital. There, a psychiatrist determined that the child is too stricken with anxiety to make air travel safe for him. As such, the deportation has been delayed, but it is believed they will still be deported later this week.

The deplorable conditions of refugee camps in Greece have been a matter of public record for years. Further, these deportations are in violation of both Icelandic law and international agreements of which Iceland is a signatory country.

“UNICEF demands that the Icelandic government to examine its review processes for children who seek international asylum alongside reviewing its child rights laws in general,” UNICEF’s statement concludes. “This is one of the most important projects for improving the reception, knowledge and work process for determining what is best for the child.”

Iceland changed its Law on Foreigners in 2017 to provide special protections to child refugees, Iceland has encoded in its laws the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Refugee Convention, all of which, directly or indirectly, already prohibit deportations of this nature.

Despite this, Iceland has repeatedly deported children into dangerous conditions, prompting UNICEF to issue yet another reminder that these deportations are, in fact, in direct violation of the laws that Iceland has pledged to uphold.

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