A Nigerian man who was deported on legally dubious grounds is being made to pay for his deportation, and a benefit concert will be held to help cover the costs.
The man in question, Eugene Imoto, was arrested and deported last June, despite having been issued a work permit about a week prior to his arrest, and despite being the father of three children – two of whom were born in Iceland.
A recent court ruling points out Article 2 of the Dublin Regulation, which states that detaining someone slated for deportation is only justifiable if there is reason to believe the asylum seeker may abscond, i.e., flee and go into hiding. In fact, Article 28 of that same Regulation states clearly: “Member States shall not hold a person in detention for the sole reason that he or she is subject to the procedure established by this Regulation.”
Further, Article 74 Paragraph 2 of the new Act on Foreigners states that asylum seekers can be given residence permits if they have been in Iceland for 18 months or more. As Eugene has been in Iceland since 2014, this Article does apply, and was actually the reasoning used to give others asylum, as Stundin has reported. There is also Article 37, which outlines reasons for granting protection to asylum seekers; in Eugene’s case, Nigeria is facing a devastating famine.
Most importantly, Article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child specifically states, “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.”
Eugene wants nothing more than to see his children again, but Grapevine has learned that authorities are demanding he pay 1.2 million ISK to cover the cost of his own deportation before they will consider re-examining his case.
Ester Hansen, the staff manager at Sægreifinn, where Eugene was briefly employed before he was arrested and deported, believes this in particular is reprehensible.
“It’s weird to me that the Icelandic government breaks the law, and then demands Eugene pay for it,” she told us. “This strikes me as very corrupt.”
Ester describes Eugene as being “the sweetest guy” who was always eager to help others.
“Eugene taught me the privilege of being an Icelander and a European,” she said. “He taught me that wherever you come from, we’re all human. And now I want him to experience the privileges he taught me we have, the same privileges that we take for granted.”
Asking for help
In an effort to help Eugene pay the cost the Icelandic government is demanding of him, a benefit concert has been organised in his honour. To be held at Gaukurinn at 20:00 this Friday, the line-up includes Alexander Jarl, Auður, Fever Dream, Geisha Cartel, Madonna + Child and Krakk & Spaghettí. Admission is 1,500 ISK, but you can also send donations to the bank account 0301-26-010516, kennitala 090482-2119.