MPs in Iceland’s Parliament have not reached an agreement on several bills, and it has become clear that Alþingi will not be prorogued at the end of this week, as planned. Justice Minister Jón Gunnarsson’s immigration bill has been one of the most controversial, and three opposition parties have submitted proposed changes to the bill.
The proposed changes submitted by the Social-Democratic Alliance, People’s Party, and Reform Party are in six parts and their aim is to reach an agreement before the end of this parliamentary session. The first change proposed is for asylum seekers whose applications have been denied continue to be provided with services until they leave the country, instead of being cut off from basic services like housing and food allowances after 30 days, as the bill currently outlines.
Other proposed amendments to the bill include continuing to grant applicants for international protection the minimum protection of the Administrative Procedure Act on reopening a case due to new data and information. The parties also propose that quota refugees (those invited to settle in Iceland via international agreements) would have the same rights regarding family reunification in Iceland as others who have received protection here through other routes. These proposals are now being reviewed by the Ministry of Justice.
Criticised by human rights organisations
The first version of this controversial bill was introduced in Alþingi in 2018 but was not passed at the time. This is the fourth version of the bill, which has been criticised by human rights organisations each time it has been introduced.
“This is an attempt by the government to establish a policy that involves significantly constricting refugees, curtailing their human rights, and reducing their possibilities for receiving protection in Iceland,” Activist Sema Erla Serdar of the aid organisation Solaris tweeted. “The bill especially targets children and other people in a particularly vulnerable situation.”