From Iceland — Human Trafficking Survivor Facing Deportation Challenges Decision In Court

Human Trafficking Survivor Facing Deportation Challenges Decision In Court

Published April 20, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Uhunoma Osayomore, an asylum seeker who fled human trafficking and violence in Nigeria and is now facing deportation from Iceland, will have his case heard in Reykjavík District Court, Vísir reports.

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.

This decision attracted national attention culminating in one of the largest petitions in Icelandic history; some 45,000 people signed this petition, which was handed to Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir last February.

Despite this, the Immigration Appeals Board confirmed on April 9th that Uhunoma has 30 days to leave the country voluntarily, or otherwise be deported.

Magnús Davíð Norðdahl, Uhunoma’s lawyer, told reporters that he is confident that the court will rule in his client’s favour for a number of reasons.

First of all, he points out that the objections raised by the Board include such things as Uhunoma not, in his previous interview with immigration authorities, having disclosed everything he endured while held against his will in a human trafficking ring, and that he had taken up a Western-sounding nickname upon arrival in Europe. Magnús points out that it is not uncommon for survivors to have difficulty recounting every exact specific detail of the trauma they endured, nor is it uncommon for someone with a name that some westerners may find difficult to pronounce to adopt a name that is easier for westerners to remember and say.

Magnús believes the Board did all this for the sole purpose of supporting their previous ruling on the matter, rather than to actually learn more details about Uhunoma’s case. As such, he is optimistic that the court will rule in his client’s favour.

“I believe unreservedly that this case will get a positive ending,” Magnús told reporters. “And that Uhunoma will get the chance to settle here, experience heretofore unknown safety, and devote himself to participating in Icelandic society.”

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