Seven-Year-Old’s Deportation Delayed

Muhammed Zohair Faisal

Icelandic authorities have decided to delay the deportation of a Pakistani couple and their seven-year-old son Muhammed, which was scheduled for today, RÚV reports. The same decision was made in the case of another family who has been in Iceland for over 16 months. Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir plans to shorten the maximum processing time for asylum applications involving children.

Muhammed’s family applied for asylum in Iceland in late 2017 and have been living in the country ever since. Muhammed attends Vesturbæjarskóli in Reykjavík, where his classmates and their parents gathered yesterday in support of him and his parents Faisal and Niha. The group then walked to the Ministry of Justice to present a petition with over 17,000 signatures calling for the family to be allowed to stay in Iceland. The online petition in support of the family is nearing 19,000 signatures as of the time of writing.

A press release from the Ministry of Justice states that the decision has been made to delay deportation in all asylum cases involving children that have taken over 16 months to process. Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir plans to shorten the maximum processing time for asylum applications involving children from 18 months down to 16. “It is hoped that this will be only the first step in shortening the handling of such cases,” the Justice Ministry’s press release on the matter states. “The will of the legislature and the government is clear. Particular consideration should be given to the interests of children when processing applications for international protection.”

Reykjavík City Employees Strike Tomorrow

preschool kindergarten kids children child

Over 1,800 employees of the City of Reykjavík who are members of Efling Union will strike tomorrow, February 4, between 12.30pm and midnight. A majority of these employees work within the school system, and most of those at preschools, which will be see shortened hours or closures as a result. Garbage collection and the city’s welfare department will also be impacted.

Contract negotiations between the City and Efling Union have so far been unsuccessful. The parties met today in a last-minute effort to avoid the strike, but as Efling’s director Viðar Þorsteinsson told RÚV, “Nothing came forth from the City that creates a basis for negotiation.”

Efling members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the strike, with 95.5% supporting strike measures throughout February. Voter turnout was relatively high, at just under 60%. Tomorrow’s strike is the first of five temporary strikes which are scheduled this month as follows:

Tuesday, February 4 from 12.30pm to 11.59pm.

Thursday, February 6 from 12.01am to 11.59pm.

Tuesday, February 11 from 12.30pm to 11.59pm.

Wednesday, February 12 from 12.01am to 11.59pm.

Thursday, February 13 from 12.01am to 11.59pm.

Efling Union members who work for the City of Reykjavík will strike indefinitely starting Monday, February 17 at 12.01am unless an agreement is reached before that time.

Hildur Guðnadóttir Wins BAFTA Award

Hildur Guðnadóttir BAFTA

Icelander Hildur Guðnadóttir has won the 2020 BAFTA for Best Original Score for the film Joker. It’s the latest award in a streak of wins for the composer, whose scores for Joker and TV series Chernobyl have garnered her a Golden Globe and an Emmy this awards season.

“Working on Joker was the journey of a lifetime and Todd [Phillips, director] is a master for having steered that ship,” Hildur said in her acceptance speech. “It was such an incredible, incredible honour to work on this film and create it with so many amazing artists that are here tonight who did such an incredible job and I would like to share this with all of you.”

Hildur’s fellow nominees in the category were Thomas Newman for 1917, Michael Giacchino for Jojo Rabbit, Alexandre Desplat for Little Women and John Williams for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. All of those composers, except Michael Giacchino, are also nominated for the 2020 Oscar for Best Original Score. The Oscars ceremony will be held on Sunday, February 9.

In Focus: Samherji Scandal

Samherji ship fishing capelin

One of the biggest news stories to break last year alleged that one of Iceland’s largest seafood companies, Samherji, had bribed Namibian government officials to gain access to lucrative fishing grounds, while also taking advantage of international loopholes to avoid taxes. The story was reported collaboratively by Kveikur, Stundin Newspaper, and Al Jazeera Investigates, after months of investigations sparked by the confessions of whistleblower Jóhannes Stefánsson, a former project manager for Samherji in Namibia. The following report is based on their extensive research.

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