Finnish Immigration Service to review approximately 500 asylum decisions
Due to a decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued on 14 November 2019, the Finnish Immigration Service will review around 500 of its asylum decisions. The purpose of this is to ensure that all potentially similar cases have been duly identified.
"We take the ECHR judgement very seriously, which is why we have decided to take these measures," says Director General Jaana Vuorio.
According to the Finnish Immigration Service's investigation, there are approximately 500 asylum seekers in Finland who have received an enforceable negative decision on their application before the ECHR issued its decision, meaning that they are waiting for removal from the country. This group may consist of multiple nationalities.
In the case of these applicants, the Finnish Immigration Service will go through the asylum decision it has issued and make sure that the case has been processed in accordance with the requirements posed by the ECHR decision. If the asylum decision contains something that needs to be taken into account due to the ECHR decision, the applicant may be asked to submit a new application. However, submitting a new application does not necessarily lead to a residence permit.
The ECHR decision will be observed in all activities
Other asylum seekers have their matter pending either at the Finnish Immigration Service or in court. In that case, the authorities who are currently processing the application will take the ECHR decision into account when issuing a decision. The principle of non-refoulement is binding for all authorities.
Nearly all applicants who have receive a negative decision on their asylum application appeal against the decision to a court. In addition, a large proportion of applicants have submitted a subsequent application. A subsequent application is an application for international protection that a person submits after having received a final decision on an earlier application.
"The ECHR decision will be taken into account in all our activities. When subsequent applications are processed, the previous decisions made by the Finnish Immigration Service for the applicant will be examined and the key questions in the ECHR decision will be taken into account then," says Director of Asylum Unit Antti Lehtinen.
Identifying the need for international protection is imperative
On 14 November 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found that Finland had violated Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights in an asylum matter. The ECHR judgement concerned an Iraqi asylum seeker who had applied for international protection in Finland in 2015.
The Finnish Immigration Service issued a negative decision on his asylum application in 2016, and his appeal was rejected by the Administrative Court. In November 2017, the applicant returned to Iraq assisted, and he was reported to have died there. The Supreme Administrative Court did not grant leave to appeal.
The ECHR judgement called attention to risk assessment, meaning how the earlier incidents the applicant had been through were taken into account when assessing the future risk. In addition, the cumulative effect of the individual factors in the applicant’s personal background should have been considered in the decision.
In 2015, approximately 32,000 asylum seekers arrived in Finland. In 2016, the Finnish Immigration Service issued 28,000 asylum decisions. At the moment, the number of asylum seekers coming to Finland is relatively low. The number of first asylum applications submitted this year has been less than 2,200.
"The work of the Finnish Immigration Service has been carefully reviewed in recent years, and plenty of development work has been done on the asylum process, especially after 2015. We must in all cases be able to recognise an applicant’s need for international protection with certainty, and that is what we aim to ensure with these measures," says Vuorio.
- Antti Lehtinen, Director of Asylum Unit, tel. +358 295 433 037, email: [email protected]