Iceland’s Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson has proposed changes to regulations governing asylum seekers in Iceland that will be made public in the coming days, RÚV reports. The proposed changes include implementing systemic measures to encourage asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected to leave the country. Jón stated he believes the government needs to “go further” and says the Justice Ministry has been working on a bill that “tackles certain uniquely Icelandic rules.”
Changes for asylum seekers from Venezuela
Like other countries in Europe, Iceland is seeing a surge in the number of asylum seekers. Over 1,700 people have applied for asylum in Iceland since the beginning of this year, with the largest group, nearly half, from Venezuela. The Directorate of Immigration recently updated its assessment of conditions in Venezuela so that asylum seekers arriving from the country no longer automatically receive additional protection in Iceland. The Immigration and Asylum Appeals Board has yet to take a stance regarding this change.
Iceland’s Parliament passed a highly-criticised immigration bill last month that strips asylum seekers in the country of their rights, including access to housing and healthcare, 30 days after their applications have been rejected. Human rights organisations in Iceland have strongly opposed the bill, including the Red Cross, UNICEF, and Amnesty International.