From Iceland — Ministry Will Not Appeal Court Decision

Ministry Will Not Appeal Court Decision

Published June 10, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Navid Nouri

The Ministry of the Interior will not appeal a Reykjavík District Court ruling to award damages to an asylum seeker for mistreatment of his case.

RÚV reports that the ministry has agreed to pay Atila Askarpour over 2 million ISK in damages for not handling his case properly. In a written statement to RÚV, the ministry said that their decision not to take the matter to the Supreme Court after “careful examination” of Askarpour’s case, “keeping in mind the considerations of the case and the specific circumstances”. The ministry also emphasised that not appealing the decision “does not necessarily reflect what was put forward in the court ruling, other than it was decided not to take the matter further.”

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 long criticised 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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