A Syrian family, comprised of a father, pregnant mother and two-year-old child, have been informed by the Directorate of Immigration (ÚTL) that their case file for international protection in Iceland will not even be examined, and they will be deported to Greece, Vísir reports. As the Grapevine and others have repeatedly reported, activists and lawyers alike consider deportation to Greece to not only be dangerous, but also in violation of international and Icelandic law.
Ahmad and Ghafran Ninal fled Syria three years ago and landed in Greece, where they were granted “protection”. Greek authorities in fact require any refugees arriving in that country to apply for asylum there—even if they have no intention of staying in Greece—or otherwise be refused entry.
Even those granted “protection” in Greece are given no resources for surviving in the country, and more often than not, these refugees end up homeless. Such as the case for the Ninal family as well who, after enduring unsanitary conditions in a refugee camp, ended up on the street with their then one-year-old child.
Their sole dream is to make a life for themselves as Icelandic citizens.
“We want to be Icelandic citizens, not just residents of Iceland,” Ahmad told reporters.
“We really want to learn the language, work here, and be a part of Icelandic society,” Ghafran adds. “We came here to Iceland to be here our whole lives. We want to live and die in Iceland.”
The Grapevine spoke with Ragnheiður Kristín Finnbogadóttir, a lawyer who wrote her Master’s thesis on Iceland’s immigration policies, on whether deporting people to Greece is even legal by Iceland law—Article 42 on the Law on Foreigners specifically states “it is not permitted to send a foreigner or a stateless person to an area where he has reason to fear persecution” or other inhumane treatment.
This deportation may also violate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 3 of which clearly 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.”
“In my opinion, deportations to Greece are unlawful under Icelandic law,” Ragnheiður told us. “They’re not obliged to deport anyone, first of all. Second, you shouldn’t, if you know that the circumstances would provide for inhumane treatment. They say ‘this is all in accordance [with] the law, nothing to see here’, but when you look deeper, it’s not. The Dublin Regulation [is] not an obligation. You can always look further into their circumstances.”
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