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Asylum Seekers May Be Deported

Last Thursday police undertook an extensive search of seven apartments where asylum seekers reside on Reykjanes peninsula in southwest Iceland, after which some asylum seekers may face deportation.

“We are expecting reports and information from Sudurnes police in the next few days,” head of the Directorate of Immigration Haukur Gudmundsson told Morgunbladid. “Then we can start working on individual cases.”

During the police search, around ISK 1.6 million (USD 18,000, EUR 12,000) in various currencies was confiscated along with some official documents. Asylum seekers usually sign a declaration stating they have no money, which is a prerequisite for receiving benefits from the Icelandic state.

Police suspect that some asylum seekers may have tried to hide IDs and other documents away from authorities while their applications were being processed.

Police have been criticized for harsh treatment of asylum seekers during their operation on Thursday.

Farzad Rahmanian, an asylum seeker from Iraq who has resided in Iceland for almost three years, said in an interview with Morgunbladid on Saturday that he does not understand why police have taken money away from people while searching their houses.

Sudurnes Chief of Police Jóhann R. Benediktsson said it is ridiculous to claim that the rights of asylum seekers had not been respected.

“The search was well prepared and we had interpreters and lawyers with us for all the asylum seekers to make sure their rights were being upheld,” Benediktsson said.

“A judge approved all eight of our search warrants without remark and the asylum seekers’ lawyer made no comments on any of them when the warrants were presented to him.”

“Before the search commenced we cooperated closely with every public office involved,” Benediktsson concluded.

Part of the purpose with the home search was to prevent human trafficking. A Chinese man who resides in Amsterdam was stopped at Keflavík International Airport on Thursday with a passport intended for a Chinese woman who is an asylum seeker in Iceland and lives on Reykjanes.

The woman is believed to be a victim of human trafficking and the man is being held in custody. The investigation of the case is ongoing.

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