Reykjavík Grapevine

Minister Of Justice Under Fire For Refugee Camp Proposal

By Jess Distill
Minister of Justice, Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir.
Minister of Justice, Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir. Vísir/Vilhelm

Minister of Justice, Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, has come under fire after suggesting that demarcation areas be set up to accommodate refugees in Iceland whilst they await deportation, Vísir reports.

During an unprepared question time, Áslaug raised the idea of creating areas for refugees to stay, so that they can be monitored and are not able to hide or get lost. “In many of the countries around us, this is done so that the parties are in a certain area after they receive a no from the government, so that this can be done more easily and so that the parties are not lost in the community.”

The idea was connected to the case of an Egyptian family who went into hiding shortly after receiving deportations orders. That family has now been granted asylum on humanitarian grounds.

Rósa Björk Brynjólfsdóttir, who resigned from the Left Green Party due to, among other things, refugee issues, said that her disappointment was profound because something so inhumane is being seriously considered.

Under fire

Other MPs have also voiced concern over the proposal. On Facebook, Andrés Ingi Jónsson stated that “The Minister of Justice discusses a bad idea of a closed area for refugees awaiting deportation. Last year, the Danish government decided to close the camp in Sjælsmark, where refugees have had to live in inhumane conditions for months and even years. The situation in the camps has been a disgrace to Danish society.” Þórunn Ólafsdóttir, who has worked tirelessly to help refugees in Iceland said that such an area was nothing more than a prison, asking “why is there a child prison in Iceland in 2020?”

Þórhildur Sunna Ævasrsdóttir, MP for the Pirate Party also spoke up against the Minister’s proposal, writing on Facebook, “When the Prime Minister said in her policy speech that the interests of refugee children should be reviewed, I thought, what does that really mean, Katrín? The Minister of Justice has given us a whiff of what’s to come. Let’s keep refugee children in concentration camps!”

All this said, such a camp is highly unlikely to come to fruition. Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir, MP for the Left Green Party, said that the proposed arrangements were “absurd and out of the question.” In a post on her Facebook page, Bjarkey wrote “The issue in question is, of course, nothing more than a refugee camp or a prison, and it is not possible to set such up on the part of the Left Green Parliamentary Party. A new law would be needed to make this a reality, and such a bill would not pass through my party.”

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The post Minister Of Justice Under Fire For Refugee Camp Proposal appeared first on The Reykjavik Grapevine.

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 Grapevine’s content and want to help it’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining the High Five Club.

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