Government Criticised for Deporting Human Trafficking Survivors Skip to content
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Photo: Golli.

Government Criticised for Deporting Human Trafficking Survivors

Stígamót, Iceland’s centre for survivors of sexual violence, has harshly condemned authorities for the deportation of four Nigerians last Monday, three of whom were women who are survivors of human trafficking. The centre is now working to help ensure their safety.

Had lived in Iceland for years

The women in question, Ester, Mary and Blessing, have lived in Iceland for anywhere from four to six years. They are all reportedly survivors of human trafficking, and sought asylum in Iceland. Their applications and their appeals were rejected by immigration authorities and, last year, they were stripped of even the most basic services, such as housing and food. Asylum seekers are forbidden by law from working.

They were arrested on May 10th and detained. Despite a medical examination that confirmed that Blessing has an abdominal tumour, and a certificate from a doctor stating that travel might endanger her life, the deportation was slated to go ahead as scheduled.

“Extremely worried”

“We’re at a new place in Iceland when we’re deporting survivors of human trafficking who’ve been living in Iceland for years,” Drífa Snædal, spokesperson for Stígamót, told Vísir, saying their treatment was “extremely inhumane”, and that they were denied visits from a psychologist or a priest.

“We are extremely worried about their welfare, and the responsibility of the Icelandic government is great for sending them away into uncertainty,” she said. “It is very likely that they will end up in human trafficking again.”

Following closely

Drífa says that in her estimation, deporting these women into uncertain circumstances constitutes a breach of international agreements that Iceland is party to.

“If survivors of human trafficking must be deported, their safety must be ensured at their arrival point,” Drífa said. “I don’t see that this has been done, but we’re actually working on that right now.”

That being said, she is not especially optimistic. The women are stopping Frankfurt but from there being sent to Nigeria.

“It is very important for their safety that someone accompanies them and ensures their safety as much as possible,” she said. “I don’t even know if that’s possible.”

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