European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Fourth report on Iceland [en] - [fr]- [is]


Press Release – 21.02.2012

Icelandic version

Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Iceland

Strasbourg, 21.02.2012 - The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published a new report on Iceland. ECRI’s Chair ad interim, François Sant’Angelo, said that, while there have been positive developments, issues of concern remain, such as the delay in granting permission for Muslim communities to build mosques and some gaps in the anti-discrimination legislation, including the lack of an anti-racism body.

The Government adopted its first ever Policy on the Integration of Immigrants and developed an Action Plan on Immigrant Issues. New legislation in the field of education helps pupils whose mother tongue is not Icelandic. Safeguards have been introduced so that immigrant women are not forced to stay in abusive or violent relationships for fear of losing their right to stay in Iceland. Efforts have been made to improve the asylum system and special safeguards for unaccompanied minors have been introduced.

However, Iceland has not established a specialised body to combat racism and discrimination based on “race”, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin. While the conditions for citizenship now include passing Icelandic language tests, funding for language classes for foreigners has been cut. Pupils of immigrant background have a significantly higher drop-out rate from secondary school than Icelandic pupils. Hate speech against Muslims is diffused on a private television channel and on the Internet. The provisions of the Act on Foreigners concerning prohibition of expulsion or return of refugees (non-refoulement) are not in line with international standards.

In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, three of which require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:

  • Grant land and permission to build mosques to Muslim communities so that they can exercise their right to manifest their religion in worship;
  • Complete the work on an anti-discrimination bill so that the law can be adopted as soon as possible;
  • Introduce a criminal law provision that expressly considers the racist motivation of an offence as a specific aggravating circumstance.

The report is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Iceland in April 2011 [press release 12.04.2011] and takes account of developments up to 23 June 2011.

ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion and language, as well as xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance, prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.

For more information on ECRI: www.coe.int/ecri

Press contact: Stefano Valenti, Tel: +33 (0)3 90 21 43 28, stefano.valenti@coe.int