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.”