From Iceland — New Details On Deportation Case Indicate Human Trafficking Aspect Was Ignored

New Details On Deportation Case Indicate Human Trafficking Aspect Was Ignored

Published February 9, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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The lawyer for Uhunoma Osayomore, who escaped human trafficking and is facing deportation from Iceland, has revealed new details about the case that indicate that immigration authorities chose to ignore facts about his story that show he is a survivor of human trafficking, RÚV reports. Meanwhile, nearly 32,000 people have, at the time of this writing, signed a petition calling for authorities to grant him international protection.

As reported, Uhunoma left home in Nigeria when he was only 16 years old after witnessing his own father kill his mother and suffered the loss of his younger sister in an accident. Shortly thereafter, he was kidnapped by slave traders and subjected to sexual violence. Escaping that situation, he arrived in Iceland in October 2019.

Since his arrival, Uhunoma has been taken in by an Icelandic family of six and made numerous friends. He also has a job waiting for him, should authorities allow him to work—asylum seekers are, by law, not permitted to work while their applications are being processed without being granted a special permit to do so. However, his application for international protection was denied by the Directorate of Immigration and the Immigration Appeals Board, and is now facing deportation.

Magnús D. Norðdahl, Uhunoma’s attorney, disclosed further details about how the Directorate of Immigration (ÚTL) and the Immigration Appeals Board handled Uhunoma’s case.

In the decision handed down by the Appeals Board, which seconded ÚTL’s order to deport Uhunoma, not a word is mentioned about human trafficking, but the board did consider his disclosure of being subjected to sexual violence in Libya to be credible. This, Magnús says, indicates that while the Board considered Uhunoma’s account credible, they chose to ignore key details that prove he is a survivor of human trafficking.

In the formal request filed with the Appeals Board to open Uhunoma’s case again, it is further detailed how he was made to pay for his journey from Nigeria to Libya by being sold to a woman in that country. Five months later, she was murdered, and Uhunoma was kidnapped by a man who forced him to do farm work and repeatedly sexually assaulted him.

“My client was bought and sold between countries and there is no doubt that he is a survivor of human trafficking,” the appeal reads in part. “For these reasons, authorities should take these details into consideration in its case work and determine whether it calls for the implementation of sections of the Law on Foreigners that could be beneficial to my client.”

According to Icelandic law, it is possible to grant someone international protection as a human trafficking survivor even if they may not have fulfilled other requirements for a temporary residence permit. However, as it stands now, Uhunoma is facing imminent deportation from Iceland.

Nonetheless, some 32,000 people have at the time of this writing signed a petition imploring authorities to grant him international protection—a figure which comes close to 10% of the total population of the country.

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