The Icelandic government did not have adequate legal rights to deny the members of the Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong entry to Iceland during the official visit of the president of China to Iceland in 2002, reports Fréttabladid.
According to an opinion, just released by an ombudsman appointed by parliament, the government neither had the legal rights to prevent members of Falun Gong from entering the country nor to authorize a private entity, Flugleiðum hf. (Icelandair), to carry out the decision by refusing to permit Falun Gong members to board Icelandair planes.
Fréttabladid reports that during the Chinese president’s visit to Iceland, members of the Falun Gong had planned peaceful protests against the Chinese government’s treatment of the Falun Gong movement members China.
According to Fréttabladid, prior to the president’s visit, quite a few Falun Gong members had arrived in Iceland, and the Icelandic government worried that its police force did not have enough manpower to deal with potential problems.
Many Falun Gong members arrived in Keflavík only to be deported. Twenty six protesters were transported to an elementary school in Njardvík where they were kept until it was possible to deport them. The Icelandic government received a list with the names of Falun Gong members worldwide and this list was used to prevent the Falun Gong members from boarding Icelandair planes at 10 airports in Europe and the US.
At the time, the government’s decision was harshly criticized, according to Fréttabladid. Iceland was the first western nation to ban the Falun Gong from entering its country.
According to the Ombudsman it is up to the justice system to decide whether the Icelandic government is liable to pay damages to those involved.
The Althing Ombudsman monitors the administration of the state and local authorities and safeguards the rights of the citizens vis-à-vis the authorities.