The lawyer for an Iranian asylum seeker is filing a suit against the Icelandic government, accusing the state of having tortured her client.
Asylum seekers in Iceland often have to wait far longer than international law allows for their case to even be considered and, more often than not, they are denied asylum. RÚV reports that Mohammad Askarpour, an Iranian asylum seeker, has lived through a harrowing experience in his attempts to find refuge in Iceland.
Askarpour originally came to Iceland in 2009, but was sent to Greece by Icelandic authorities. Greece was his previous point of departure and, as the Dublin Regulation gives European governments the right (although not the obligation) to return asylum seekers to their previous point of departure, this is what Icelandic authorities elected to do.
However, Icelandic authorities were informed and well aware of the terrible conditions of the refugee camps in Greece to which Askarpour would be sent, yet sent him there anyway. There he lived in what international authorities consider conditions unfit for human habitation for a whole year before being allowed to return to Iceland.
Three years after his initial request for asylum, his health is now failing and he is in the hospital on suicide watch. His lawyer, Katrín Oddsdóttir, contends that a large part of the reason for this was that he was denied immediate medical attention, despite having a growing infection in his sinuses, and that he was also denied psychological help, despite reporting being depressed and suicidal.
Katrín contends that Askarpour did not receive “the treatment that Icelanders consider the bare minimum to survive”, and is filing a suit against the state, accusing the government of torture. She says that while it is unfortunate to take the government to court, it is more unfortunate that “the Icelandic government does not see the results of their actions well enough, that it becomes necessary to take them to court to get them to listen to us properly.”