A young woman who fled Nigeria and gave birth to her son in Iceland will nonetheless be deported, without her case even being examined by immigration authorities. The deportation quite possibly violates the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Refugee Convention, all of which Iceland has encoded into law.
RÚV reports that Melody Otuwho was born in Nigeria in 1994, and came to Iceland last August by way of Italy. Her son, Emanuel Winner, was born in Iceland last December.
“I want the best for my son,” Melody told reporters. “I never got the chance to go to school, and I want my son to be able to. I want my son to have a chance for a good future.”
Melody’s tale of ending up in Iceland is harrowing. She originally fled to Italy when she was 19 years old, after she learned her father intended to marry her off to a much older man in exchange for money. Italy, unfortunately, proved to be a deplorable setting for its own reasons: homeless and unemployed, she was unwilling to turn to sex work to support herself. In fact, Italy is well-documented for its abuses of refugees. When she became pregnant, she made her way to Iceland, in search of a better life for herself and her son.
However, the Directorate of Immigration (UTL) has declined to examine the merits of her case, and has ordered she be deported back to Italy. Melody’s lawyer, Sigurlaug Soffía Friðþjófsdóttir, told reporters that Melody’s case has been appealed to the Immigration Appeals Board. She points out that UTL based their decision on their belief that the child would not be in any special danger in Italy.
“But this isn’t for UTL to determine,” Sigurlaug said. “Rather, they are to determine what is best for the child; not if whether or not the child is in danger.”
In fact, Iceland is a signatory country to a number of conventions and treaties that conceivably forbid deportations of this nature. They include the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Refugee Convention.
Even Icelandic law appears to contradict this deportation decision, as outlined in Article 21 of the Act on Foreigners, which states “a foreigner born in Iceland, who has since resided permanently and continuously in Iceland, can not [be] denied entry to Iceland or expelled from Iceland”.