From Iceland — Government Sentenced To Award Asylum Seeker Damages

Government Sentenced To Award Asylum Seeker Damages

Published March 3, 2014

Reykjavík District Court has ruled that the Icelandic government must pay an asylum seeker over 2 million ISK in damages for false detention and deportation without properly hearing his case.

In the court’s opinion, the Icelandic government must pay Atila Askarpour 2,350,000 ISK in damages for their treatment, and his legal fees have been waived. The court ruled that the decision of the Icelandic government to not examine his asylum application but rather send him to Greece was illegal.

Furthermore, Askarpour lived in terrible conditions while in a Greek refugee centre, and was denied adequate health care. Amnesty International, amongst others, have longcriticised the deplorable conditions asylum seekers in Greece must endure.

As reported, 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.

His lawyer, Katrín Oddsdóttir, contended that a large part of the reason for Askarpour’s failing health in Greek custody 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 said that Askarpour did not receive “the treatment that Icelanders consider the bare minimum to survive”, and filed a suit against the state, accusing the government of torture. She said at the time 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.”

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