Racist public discourse has increased in Iceland in recent years, mostly against Muslims, according to a report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, the human rights body of the Council of Europe, published today.
Although much progress has been made in Iceland, not least in terms of the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, the report suggests that many areas need improvement. The authors of the report are concerned about “increasing racist public discourse with few investigations and so far no prosecutions or convictions under hate speech legislation. Immigrants encounter problems in social integration, in learning Icelandic, access to information and lack of fair employment conditions.”
The report welcomes the appointment of a police officer to investigate hate crime and the creation of a data base to monitor online hate speech, but criticizes the lack of comprehensive anti-discrimination law to combat racism and racial discrimination. Immigrants encounter problems in instruction in Icelandic, access to information, fair employment conditions and early school drop-out.
A lack of a multi-language service center for immigrants is criticized, as is the lack of a national policy on integration of refugees. Furthermore, quota refugees are treated differently than those who come as asylum seekers.
The report recommends that comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation be enacted and that service for asylum seekers be brought to the level of that of quota refugees.