Amnesty International Annual Report 2012 criticizes Finland for accelerated asylum procedures

by , under Enrique

Amnesty International (AI) has criticized Finland in its Annual Report 2012 for accelerated asylum procedures, which include forced returns to Baghdad, according to YLE.  The report noted as well that Finland was unable to provide figures on how many irregular migrants and asylum-seekers it detained during the year.

AI reports: “However, there were concerns that many of those being detained were held in police detention facilities, contrary to international standards. In these cases, many were detained in mixed-sex facilities, together with individuals suspected of crime. Children seeking asylum, including unaccompanied children were also detained.”

The report said Finland provides inadequate protection for asylum-seekers and their right of appeal.

Migrant Tales understands that the Finnish authorities forcibly return asylum-seekers back to their original country if their request has been rejected 2-3 times.

“I know of some asylum-seekers who have been deported [from Finland] to Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, Chechnya, Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Cameroon,” said a former asylum-seeker, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “If the first country that took your fingerprints is Sweden, they can deport you to that country [as stipulated in the Dublin Agreement].”

The former asylum-seeker said that the Finnish police have three ways of deporting you.

“One is by letter informing you that they will pick you up at a certain day and time, the second is by surprise incarceration after being requested to appear at a police station,” he said. “The third is by detaining you at the refugee center without any warning.”



  1. Justice Demon

    There is no problem of principle in enforcing expulsion to a country of origin that has been found to be safe for the person concerned following a thorough investigation. However, one crucial unaddressed issue concerns systematic investigation of the success rates of these investigations.

    The current practice resembles that of a pharmaceutical corporation that conducts no systematic reviews of its products after they have been approved for public sale. Post-marketing surveillance is a recognised and important element of pharmacovigilance that no reputable manufacturer would dream of ignoring.

    There is no systematic mechanism for determining whether the safety assessments made in asylum decisions turn out to be correct in concrete practice. It really should not have required decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and the Helsinki Administrative Court to put a stop to Dublin Convention expulsions to Greece. Even rudimentary monitoring would have revealed and forestalled this particular scandal.

    The ultimate fate of rejected and expelled asylum-seekers is relevant to the asylum process in the same way as market reports are relevant to product safety assessments and injury statistics are relevant to the bodies that determine the rules of physical contact sport. It is a scandal that this feedback is not collected systematically and used to improve asylum procedures.

    • JusticeDemon

      An article in today’s Guardian describes a rare example of post-expulsion feedback.

  2. Mark

    An article in today’s Guardian describes a rare example of post-expulsion feedback.

    Interesting to see how the UK Border authorities use the European court ruling to absolve themselves of any responsibility to actually factually verify the court’s claims that returned asylum seekers to Sri Lanka did not need protection.

    • JusticeDemon

      One of the most important justifications for appeal procedures is precisely that they put some distance between executive authorities and the outcomes of their decisions.

      This was a factor when universal appeal rights were introduced in residence permit decisions back in the early 1990s. Simply stated, one job of the administrative courts is to protect the Finnish government from the embarrassment that inevitably arises when unreviewed immigration decisions reach the European Court of Human Rights. It is important to install at least one level of judicial review before domestic remedies are exhausted. Any errors of law or of fact that remain after this screening process can then be blamed on the court.

      The Finnish administrative system – and even the administrative judiciary – does not function in an explicitly adversarial manner. Executive authorities and courts of law have a strong ex officio duty to investigate and determine the facts of the cases that they examine. They cannot rely only on evidence submitted by the concerned party. This recognises the asymmetric situation of the authority and its client, in which the former is almost always better resourced to investigate most aspects of a case. The client’s duty to provide information is secondary and proportional to the client’s reasonable ability to do so.

      This arrangement places considerable responsibility on the executive authority to investigate the facts of each case in a competent manner. The administrative courts have only very marginal independent investigative powers and are not resourced for this purpose. This means that cases are often decided solely on the basis of the information that was originally gathered by the executive authority, even though the court then carries the blame when that information turns out to be flawed or inadequate. In other words, the court is held responsible for errors of fact that it had no practical way of detecting.

      The missing link here is an independent audit of the fact-finding methods that are applied by executive authorities. Feedback on the outcome of decided cases is a key element of this fact-finding.

  3. Mark

    The missing link here is an independent audit of the fact-finding methods that are applied by executive authorities. Feedback on the outcome of decided cases is a key element of this fact-finding.

    A regular annual audit would be productive and one that looks at actual cases rather than simply what’s written into their procedural documentation.

    Likewise, if an audit took on a selection of random cases and in addition, some cases proposed by the Minorities Ombudsmen, then we would perhaps achieve a more realistic appraisal of the effectiveness of evidence-gathering methods and a means also for some kind of independent investigation into the worst cases brought to the Ombudsmen’s attention.