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Iceland Mag

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Tonight: The best of up and coming Icelandic bands at a fundraiser concert for the legal fees of refugees

  • Looking to sample some of the best of Icelandic music? And support an important cause? Then head to the hip downtown concert venue Paloma tonight. Photo/No Borders

Following the deportation of an Albanian family of four, including a sick three year old under the cover of darkness last week, the question whether refugees and asylum seekers in Iceland are being treated fairly by the authorities has been the focus of public debate. Many have argued that asylum seekers and refugees are not adequately represented in the system, and that the decisions of the Directorate of Immigration not only lack compassion, but frequently appear to be in violation of Icelandic law and treaty obligations.

Read more: Public anger over deportation of refugee family: Offices of the Directorate of Immigration vandalized

One of the issues which critics have pointed out is that refugees and asylum seekers have a very hard time having the courts review decisions reached in their cases, as taking a case to the courts is expensive. Now the Icelandic chapter of the international activist network No Borders, which fights for the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, is organizing a legal defence fund to pay for such cases, launching the fund with a fundraising concert tonight at Paloma in downtown Reykjavík.

Some of the best of what Reykjavík music scene has to offer
The concert, which starts tonight at 20:00, is held at Paloma, one of Reykjavík’s most popular concert venues. The line-up includes some of the best of Iceland’s young and up-and-coming musicians, making this concert a perfect opportunity to see what young and hip Icelanders are up to. 

refugees benefit concert
Tonight's event Held at Paloma, which is one of Reykjavík's hippest and most happening bars. Photo/No Borders.

Jórunn Edda Helgadóttir, lawyer, activist and one of the organizers of the concert, tells Iceland Magazine it is a great opportunity to support the rights of asylum seekers and the newly founded legal fund. “Every krona that comes in goes to the fund. Everyone is donating their work, not only the musicians, but the staff and the venue as well.”

It is also for a worthy cause, as Jórunn Edda argues a legal defence fund for refugees is crucial: “Currently refugees or asylum are in effect barred from having their cases reviewed by the courts by the sheer cost of bringing a case to the court. It costs thousands of dollars to hire a lawyer and bring a case up for review, something which even the average Icelander has a hard time affording, let alone refugees who are destitute, having left any meagre possessions behind.”

Refugees are effectively barred from having the courts review their cases
The long term goal of the legal defence fund is to help refugees and asylum seekers pay for legal fees. However, the initial goal is to pay the legal costs of bringing a key case to the courts, a case which could be a game-changer for asylum seekers and refugees.

Jórunn points out that refugees used to have the option of state paid legal aid, but this was revoked recently: “Restoring this right is crucial for refugees, who are otherwise locked out of the system. Currently it is really only the executive branch which reviews their cases, without any oversight from the judicial branch,” Jórunn tells us.

Party begins at 20:00 at Paloma in downtown Reykjavík
The cover is 1,000 ISK, the concert begins at 20:00

The line-up:
Amaba Dama
Unnsteinn Manúel
Bárujárn
Just Another Snake Cult
RVK Soundsystem

For those who cannot make it to the concert have the option of donating directly to the fund. The necessary bank information is:

Account number:   1175-05-63142
Social security number for the account:  620210-1100

All contributions go to pay for legal representaton of refugees in Icelandic courts.

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