Some 300 to 400 people gathered in front of Parliament this afternoon to protest the impending deportation of a family, including four young children, who are set to be put on a plane under police escort early tomorrow morning.
Attendees drummed, offered their thoughts on this case in particular and the deportation of children in general, and chanted, amongst other things, “No human is illegal”, “Out with ÚTL, in with children” (referring to the Directorate of Immigration), and “Are you human, Áslaug Arna?”, referring to Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir.
The Justice Minister has been in the spotlight since the story of the family broke last week, and considerable pressure is on her to save the family.
As reported, the Kehdr family came to Iceland from Egypt in early August 2018, and immediately applied for asylum. They were forced to leave their home country as the father of the family, Ibrahim Kehdr, was being persecuted in Egypt due to his political activities; namely, for supporting former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi. In July 2019, the Directorate of Immigration denied their application, and so the family filed an appeal with the Immigration Appeals Board. The Appeals Board came to the conclusion to agree with the Directorate’s decision in November of the same year. This would put them just a couple weeks shy of being granted asylum in accordance with the 16-month regulation—a regulation which grants asylum to anyone whose case has lingered within the system for 16 months or longer.
However, the announcement of the date of their deportation, September 16th, only arrived late last week, by which time the family has been in Iceland for over two years.
Earlier today, Áslaug was handed a petition of over 12,000 signatures at the time of this writing, calling upon the Minister to grant the family asylum. While she has said that she has no intentions of making any changes to the current regulations on the matter in order to save the family, the Grapevine and others have pointed out Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which specifically states: “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”
Article 3 of the Convention, as it pertains to this case, has been pointed out by Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir; the lawyer for the family, Magnús D. Norðdal; the children’s ombudsman Salvör Nordal; and the Association of Icelandic Social Workers.
This protest is a culmination of all of these efforts. Barring any other interventions, the family is scheduled to be sent out of the country just hours from now.
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