The Kehdr family, who were set to be deported from Iceland this morning, were not at the location that police sought to pick them up from. Their whereabouts are currently unknown, Vísir reports, and while police would not comment in depth on the matter, they said that they were investigating.
The family’s lawyer, Magnús Norðdahl, told Vísir this morning that the police intended to take the family from Ásbrú at 5:30 this morning, escort them to the airport, and put them on an Icelandair flight to Amsterdam. That plane departed Iceland at about 7:30 this morning, without them. Magnús says he has not been in contact with the family and does not know where they are.
As reported, hundreds of Icelanders turned out yesterday afternoon to protest the family’s departure. The matter has been hotly contested, with considerable pressure placed on Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir to grant the family asylum.
At the core of the case is how long they have been in Iceland before receiving a deportation date. 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 Áslaug 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.
Ultimately, government officials decided not to intervene in this case. While Magnús filed appeals with the Immigration Appeals Board to delay the deportation, those appeals were denied, and it was all but assumed that the family would be sent out of the country this morning.
Where the family is now is unknown.
Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.
You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!