From Iceland — Justice Minister: Wait Time For Senegalese Family "Unacceptable"

Justice Minister: Wait Time For Senegalese Family “Unacceptable”

Published November 4, 2020

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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A Senegalese family who have been living in Iceland for nearly seven years now—including two children, both born in Iceland—are nonetheless facing deportation, as the Grapevine has reported. The Minister of Justice has called it “unacceptable” that the family has had to wait this long for an answer from authorities, Vísir reports, while mentioning that systemic changes are needed to allow people from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to live and work in Iceland.

As reported, the two children—Regine Martha and Elodie Marie—are three and six years old respectively, attending Icelandic schools. Both of their parents work legally in Iceland as well.

Their impending deportation is a possible violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Iceland is a signatory country which has made the Convention a part of domestic law. Article 3 is especially pertinent, stating in part, “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.”

Another element of their case concerns the respective religions of the parents, Vísir reports. One of the reasons why they fled Senegal is because the husband and father, Bassirou Ndiaye, is Christian, while the wife and mother, Mahe Diouf, is Muslim. Such marriages can invite persecution in Senegal, which is over 90% Muslim.

As the petition urging Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir to allow the family to stay in Iceland nears 18,000 signatures, Áslaug spoke to reporters on the matter, expressing both disappointment with how long the family have been made to wait, while also stressing the importance of relaxing Icelandic laws regarding people from outside the EEA.

“This is of course an unacceptable time [to wait],” she told reporters. “This also shows, regarding work permits and the importance of changing and opening them up, when people want to come to Iceland and work, that we have more opened eyes for people from outside the EEA.”

Áslaug refers here to her desire to change Iceland’s existing work and residence permit laws for people from outside of Europe, to try and make it easier for such people to seek a new life in Iceland. Where this family is concerned, their lawyer is seeking to have the Immigration Appeals Board examine their case again.

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