From Iceland — Ministry Not Responding To Lawyers

Ministry Not Responding To Lawyers

Published November 26, 2013

The Interior Ministry has yet to deliver the “unofficial documents” that were leaked to some members of the press concerning a Nigeria asylum seeker.
Stefán Karl Kristjánsson, the lawyer for Nigerian asylum seeker Tony Omos, told DV that, despite filing a formal request for the documents, he has yet to receive the leaked documents that said – incorrectly – that Tony was suspected of being involved in human trafficking, and is not the father of the child being carried by his girlfriend, Evelyn Glory Joseph.
Evelyn’s lawyer, Katrín Oddsdóttir, said that she had also filed a formal request to see the documents, and has not received any answer from the ministry.
A unnamed government employee that DV spoke to remarked, “I would say it is very unusual and especially strange that the ministry won’t even answer the formal request of a lawyer.”
DV have filed a request of their own. In addition to their request for the documents, they have also asked the ministry who has or had access to said documents, who within the ministry has access to personal information on asylum seekers, and what measures have been or will be taken in the wake of the leak. The ministry has yet to respond.
As reported, Tony is facing deportation, and is currently in hiding from the police. Last week, “unofficial ministry documents” given to members of the press stated that Tony was suspected of being involved in human trafficking and is not the father of the child being carried by his girlfriend, Evelyn Glory Joseph.
Not only did these accusations prove untrue – the “unofficial ministry documents” do not exist within ministry files. An assistant to Interior Minister Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, Gísli Freyr Valdórsson, speculated that a ministry employee may have created the documents themselves, later clarifying that he did not intend to impugn the ministry staff.
While the ministry has since attempted to distance itself from the leak, legal experts and former government employees raised questions about the wording of the ministry’s statement on the matter, suggesting that their word choice was deliberately evasive.
Tony’s asylum application had been in processing for 22 months at the time the decision to deport him was made, despite the fact that Article 19 of Dublin Regulation II – an international law regarding refugee rights and treatment – requires that either deportation occur “at the latest within six months” of an application submission or that the application process for asylum be completed within “a maximum of one year”. Iceland is a signatory of this agreement.
Furthermore, legal experts DV spoke to added, according to Article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, “States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child.” Iceland became a signatory of this agreement last February.

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