A statement on the Bræðraborgarstígur fire

We are deeply saddened by the news of of the devastating Bræðraborgarstígur fire that caused the death of three people and serious injury to others. We wish to extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased. All of the first responders we send our well deserved thanks and admiration for their every effort to save lives.

A safe home is a fundamental human right we should all be guaranteed. Iceland is fortunate to see people from all over the world settle here for work and to make a life for themselves. The appalling conditions in Bræðraborgarstígur are disgraceful proof of a failure to protect those that need our support the most: people in a new society, who are often away from family and still to make friends in a new country. Without support and outreach, this group is at a greater risk to abusive practices, negligence and exclusion. We must do more to secure everyone enjoys the rights we as a society have agreed to uphold. We must not tolerate exclusion or systematic mistreatment of those who choose to live in Iceland.

Three lives have been lost in this horrifying fire as a result of unacceptable inaction and we will do our utmost to react and to prevent such tragedies from reoccurring.

We welcome the announcement of an independent inquiry into the fire by the Housing and Construction Authority’s office and we emphasize the importance of investigating the regulatory structures and their oversight in the capital area. This fire demonstrates a failure of the fire safety laws and regulations and their supervision in Iceland. Already it is apparent that the regulatory framework for intervention is lacking in cases of unacceptable or unsafe housing. Hopefully, the findings of the inquiry of the Housing and Construction Authority will serve as a basis for strengthening the legal framework and its executive oversight.

We will not stand by and have a tragedy like the Bræðraborgarstígur fire happen again.

We are determined to do everything within our power to prevent that such a tragedy can repeat itself. As a first step, we have requested all relevant documents and information existing within the city’s institutions on the house in question. No stone will be left unturned in our search to find how this could be allowed to happen. We must ask: what could we have done differently? Have we done all we could in order to secure the safety of our new members of society? What can we do to ensure the safety and rights of our immigrant community?

We must make sure that unsafe housing like the one on Bræðraborgarstígur will never again be tolerated.

We, The Pirate party city councillors, intend to do everything in our power to ensure human rights and labour rights for all our inhabitants regardless of origin. Finally, whilst we welcome promises made by Ásmundur Einar Daðason Minister of Social Affairs on Friday, June 26th to strengthen the enforcement of immigrant workers’ rights, we emphasize that such promises must also be followed through on. We vow to hold him to his promises if necessary.

Respectfully on behalf of The Pirate Party

Dóra Björt Guðjónsdóttir

Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

Sigurbjörg Erla Egilsdóttir

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