Child Deportations In Iceland: Government Inaction In The Spotlight - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Child Deportations In Iceland: Government Inaction In The Spotlight

Published July 4, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Refugees in Iceland

All attention is turned now to the Minister of Justice, as numerous Icelandic groups call for an end to child deportations. At least two cases are pending as the pressure mounts for the government to abide both Icelandic law and international agreements.

As reported, there are currently two impending deportation cases in Iceland involving children as young as nine years old. In both cases, the families in question are set to be deported to Greece—where refugee conditions are already unfit for children. Furthermore, these deportations violate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the revised Law on Foreigners.

Since news of this broke, pressure on the government has been growing. Ultimately, the final authority on the matter is Minister of Justice Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir, whose office oversees the Directorate of Immigration.

Þórdís took to Facebook yesterday to respond, saying that while she will not comment on individual cases, she does believe that it is important that the spirit of the Law on Foreigners is followed, and that the system needs to be reviewed. However, as Pirate MP Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir points out in her comment on the post, “You could also decide, here and now, to stop deporting children to Greece and Italy, as everyone knows there will be no sympathy for them there. You don’t need to review anything. This is well reviewed and long known. Just say stop, Þórdís, show some courage!”

Vísir reports that Atli Viðar Thorstensen, department head of humanitarian issues for the Red Cross, has condemned the impending deportations, also pointing out the deplorable conditions for refugees in Greece, and the Office of the Ombudsman for Children has asked for a meeting with the Interior Minister on the matter.

As both families are facing their deportations in the coming days, time is of the essence. In the meantime, Icelanders are again circulating a petition calling upon Icelandic authorities to review these deportation cases, and a protest at Hallgrímskirkja is slated for 17:00 today.

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