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No returns to several areas in Afghanistan, asylum decisions assessed individually

3.8.2018 14.45 | Published in English on 10.8.2018 at 10.12
Press release

This week there has been a lot of discussion about the returns of asylum seekers who have not been granted a residence permit. The Finnish Immigration Service’s assessment of Afghanistan, among other countries, has been addressed several times in the discussion. We want to explain how we assess the situations of countries and individual asylum seekers.

The Finnish Immigration Service publishes situation reports for Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia once every six months. Reports from June can be found on our website in Finnish. However, the security situations of countries may sometimes change even rapidly, and therefore up-to-date country information is produced constantly.

The security situation in Afghanistan is unstable and varies largely from region to region. The Finnish Immigration Service does not only consider the situation of a country as a whole, but a more detailed assessment is made. The security situation in Afghanistan is monitored on district level, as the situation varies considerably within the country and sometimes also within a single province.

There are several areas in Afghanistan where no one will be returned. Because of the current security situation, these areas are the Helmand Province, the districts Tirin Kot, Dehrawud and Chora in the Uruzgan Province, the districts Achin, Kot, Nazyan, Chaparhar, Bati Kot, Pachir wa Agam, Khogiani and Deh Bala/Haska Mina in the south of the Nangarhari Province, and the districts Ghorak, Khakriz, Maiwand, Nish and Shah Wali Kot in the Kandahar Province.

The Finnish Supreme Administrative Court stated in a precedent given in June 2018 that the security situation in Kabul is not such that everyone returning to the town would be at risk of being subjected to armed violence. The Finnish Immigration Service applies the Aliens Act in accordance with the decisions of the Supreme Administrative Court and other binding judicial practice. However, the situation of each asylum seeker is assessed from his or her individual situation.

The Finnish Immigration Service also considers that in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan the violence is so extreme that it is a threat to everyone. Asylum seekers are currently not returned to these countries.

The non-refoulement principle is unconditional and binding

The Finnish Immigration Service takes the non-refoulement principle very seriously. According to this unconditional principle of refugee legislation, no one can be returned to a country where he or she faces a risk of being subjected to the death penalty, torture, persecution or other inhuman or degrading treatment.

The situation of each asylum seeker is always assessed individually, not only on the basis of country information. The agency examines each person’s individual situation to find out whether the person is at risk of being subjected to persecution or serious harm if he or she returns to his or her home country. The applicant explains his or her situation during the asylum interview. The agency also assesses whether it is safe, possible and reasonable for the applicant to settle in another area in his or her home country.

When the police are carrying out a removal from the country, the person’s need for protection and the existence of the conditions covered by the non-refoulement principle have often already been assessed by three different instances: the Finnish Immigration Service and independent courts of justice (an Administrative Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, if leave to appeal the Administrative Court’s decision has been applied for).

Many asylum seekers from Afghanistan motivate their application with a Hazara background. Also in these cases the Finnish Immigration Service assesses the risk of persecution for each person individually on the basis of his or her experiences and situation.

Finland grants protection to those who are under threat according to the criteria for international protection. Negative decisions can be appealed. In this case, the legality of the decision is also reviewed by an Administrative Court and the Supreme Administrative Court. The courts assess the matter independently and rely in their decisions also on their own sources for information on the security situations of the countries of origin.

This year, asylum or subsidiary protection has been granted to 62 per cent of asylum seekers from Afghanistan. The number of negative decisions has been 26 per cent. The statistics on asylum decisions can be found on our website.

Further information for the media

The asylum process and decision-making: Esko Repo, Director of Asylum Unit, tel. +358 295 430 431, email: firstname.lastname@migri.fi

Country guidelines: Senior Adviser Juuso Hyvärinen, Legal Service and Country Information Unit, tel. +358 295 430 431, email: firstname.lastname@migri.fi