The Iraqi asylum seeker’s return to Iraq discussed in the media
According to a news article released by the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle on Monday 12 February, an Iraqi asylum seeker, who had returned to his home country after receiving a negative asylum decision both from the Finnish Immigration Service and the court instances, got shot to death in Iraq after his return to the country.
In human terms, a case like this is extremely sad. The Finnish Immigration Service has had to rely on information published in the media because our jurisdiction ends at the borders of Finland. The Finnish authorities have neither an obligation nor a right to follow the citizens of a foreign country outside Finland.
Information concerning individual asylum applications and asylum decisions is confidential, which is why the Finnish Immigration Service cannot comment on individual cases. We can, however, discuss our decision-making principles on a general level.
The Finnish Immigrations Service follows the law but cannot change it
According to the article, the asylum seeker in question returned to his home country after the validity and the legality of his negative asylum decision had been examined by the Administrative Court and after the Supreme Administrative Court had decided not to grant him leave to appeal.
This means that the possibility to grant the applicant international protection in Finland had been reviewed at all the levels allowed by the Finnish law.
Our decision-makers cannot be held responsible for something that happens after an asylum seeker returns to his or her home country, if they have assessed that, based on all available information, there is no reason to apply the non-refoulement principle, and if both Administrative Courts have come to the same conclusion.
The decisions made by the Finnish Immigration Service must comply with the current legislation, which in turn is defined by the current asylum and immigration policy in Finland. Whether the laws should be amended is a political question, and the authority to make this type of decisions belongs to politicians.
All decisions are based on the information available at the time of the decision
It is important to remember that we only can assess a threat or whether a person is in risk for persecution if we are aware of the threat or the risk at the time of the decision.
We cannot know if these recent events have a connection with the matters that the applicant has brought up during the asylum investigation.
The security situation in Iraq varies considerably according to region
Whether the Finnish Immigration Service regards a certain region as safe or unsafe is often discussed in the media. Our assessment is, however, much more detailed than that.
The security situation in Iraq varies considerably from region to region. The armed conflict does not affect all parts of the country. The intensity of the conflict in Iraq and the level of violence against civilians are higher in certain areas and lower in others. Areas such as Northern and Southern Iraq have remained more stable, whereas areas previously controlled by Isis are still unstable. The security situation may change rapidly, which is why we monitor it continuously.
According to the law, an asylum seeker may be granted international protection on the grounds of the security situation in his or her home country, if the situation is so difficult that anyone who resides in the area is at risk of becoming the target of violations of the law. In Iraq, the threat of violence on active front lines is extremely high and therefore no one will be returned to these areas.
In contrast, the threat of violence is not as high in areas such as Bagdad, where returning to the city does not on its own entail a real risk of being subjected to violations of the law. This is the way the Finnish Immigration Service has assessed the situation, and our assessment is in line with the view of the European Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Administrative Court.
When making a decision on an individual application, the Finnish Immigration Service assesses the individual situation of the applicant and the reasons why the applicant claims to be at risk of personal persecution in his or her home country. The outcome of a decision does not solely depend on the applicant’s place of residence – the applicant’s personal circumstances are always taken into account.
When making a decision, the Finnish Immigration Service always evaluates whether the applicant may return to a different area in his or her home country. If this type of internal flight is possible, even applicants who come from an area where the threat of violence is extremely high are not granted international protection.
Further information for the media
Hanna Helinko, Director of Legal Service and Country Information Unit, tel. 0295 430 431, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org