A group of protesters gathered at the government meeting office on Tjarnargata this morning, Vísir reports, all imploring Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir (above, right) to prevent the deportation of a family of six, including four young children, who are scheduled to be deported tomorrow. Another protest demonstration is scheduled for this afternoon.
Part of this demonstration included Sema Erla Serdar (above, left), the chair of the refugee rights group Solaris, handing Áslaug Arna a petition of over 12,000 signatures at the time of this writing, calling upon the Minister to grant the family asylum.
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.
While Justice Minister Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir 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.
Furthermore, Sverrir Agnarsson, an expert on internal affairs in Egypt, is convinced that if the family were deported to that country, that the father of the family will certainly be tortured.
For her part, Áslaug Arna told reporters, “We are all human and we all feel sympathy with these people; we understand why they came here. This is why we are always thinking about how we can improve the system.” However, she added, she does not believe that the system failed in this instance, and continues to maintain that she will not make any changes to current regulations to save the family.
While a parliamentary meeting is currently underway to specifically discuss this family’s case, a protest demonstration has been scheduled in front of Parliament at 16:00 today to show support for the family and to encourage the government to grant them asylum. If this does not come to pass, they will be deported tomorrow.
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