“We’re not accepting everyone” PM emphasises

15.09.2020 - 14:21
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Grímur Jón Sigurðsson - RÚV
Prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir says the case of the Egyptian family scheduled for deportation tomorrow was not specifically discussed at this morning’s cabinet meeting, though asylum and international protection were discussed more generally. She emphasised that Iceland does not, and will not, grant residence permits to everyone who asks for one.

Katrín said residence permit decisions are not in the hands of individual politicians “but rather are built upon the system that we have built up”.

She pointed out that Icelandic authorities earlier this year reduced the maximum processing time to 16 months, which is short by Nordic standards, despite the fact that Iceland receives proportionately the most asylum applications in the Nordic region. Now the discussion has centred upon whether that time period should be counted as application to final decision, or application to final deportation. She says the two years that the particular family in question has spent in Iceland is a long time and that it is natural to ask questions about why deportation has taken so long. 

Asked about the protesters outside the cabinet meeting and the petition they handed over, the prime minister said: “I think it’s a sign that people feel involved in the matter and that is very good. And I think it’s important for the authorities to tackle this discussion holistically and to have an open discussion about what we want to see happen in our system. Because this is clearly not an establishment that was set up forever. The laws are relatively new; coming from 2016,” she says. 

Social affairs and children’s minister Ásmundur Einar Daðason says he has been in discussion with the justice minister to request a specially assessment of the children’s best interests in this case. 

“The Minister of Justice has expressed to me that such an assessment has taken place and that that is the demand that we as a government set to be made,” the minister said, adding: “We also discussed today how we can generally shorten the processing time in cases involving children and we will probably need to take further steps in that.” 

So, this decision will not be overturned? “I am not the Minister of Justice, I am not the director of the Directorate of Immigration,” Ásmundur Einar responded—saying the case is not in his hands. 

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Alexander Elliott
Project manager
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