From Iceland — Demonstration Supports Human Trafficking Survivor, Lawyer Optimistic

Demonstration Supports Human Trafficking Survivor, Lawyer Optimistic

Published February 10, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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Some two hundred people gathered in freezing temperatures yesterday to show solidarity for Uhunoma Osayomore, a human trafficking survivor who is nonetheless facing deportation from Iceland, Vísir reports. Meanwhile, Uhunoma’s lawyer, Magnús D. Norðdahl, remains optimistic that his client’s case will be opened again.

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 furthermore believes that immigration authorities deliberately ignored details of Uhunoma’s case; specifically, the evidence that he is a survivor of human trafficking. Such survivors, by Icelandic law, can be granted international protection even if they do not fulfill other requirements for a residence permit.

A petition calling upon authorities to grant Uhunoma international protection has now, at the time of this writing, surpassed 35,000 signatures.

Speaking to Fréttablaðið, Magnús said that a formal request to re-open Uhunoma’s case was sent to immigration authorities on Monday. He is optimistic that Uhunoma’s case will be examined again, and that his impending deportation will at least not happen this week. At the same time, he said, he believes it will never take less than two weeks for authorities to process Uhunoma’s case, therefore time is of the essence.

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