Iceland’s Directorate of Immigration should take responsibility for withdrawing housing, food allowances, and healthcare services from a group of asylum seekers that are set to be deported, says their lawyer Magnús Norðdahl. The Directorate of Immigration revoked housing and food allowances from around 20 men, most from Palestine, last month after they refused to undergo the COVID-19 testing required for their deportation. The Immigration and Asylum Appeals Board recently ruled the action as prohibited and the asylum seekers were again offered access to basic services.
Magnús represents a few of the asylum seekers in the group and told RÚV the incident has had a big impact on them. “One of my clients was put out onto the street, had no social network here. He spent a whole night on the streets of Reykjavík in freezing temperatures before he was taken into a house by people who gave him shelter. So this is a serious issue. The Directorate acted unlawfully and inhumanely,” Magnús stated.
The clients will file a claim for damages against the Directorate of Immigration. “They were deprived of services in violation of the law so I believe they are entitled to damages,” Magnús explains. “They should take into account the damage they suffered. That is, what is the price tag on the services that they did not receive during the period in question. It’s also a matter of doing harm.”
Magnús expressed surprise that no one at the Directorate of Immigration had taken responsibility for the case. “We have also called for someone to step forward and take responsibility for this case. The first thing would maybe be to apologise for this.”