Asylum seekers’ rights in Finland to appeal will be severely undermined thanks to a new law that will come into force on September 1

by , under Enrique Tessieri

President Sauli Niinistö, who has done little to challenge xenophobia in Finland because he is eyeing a second term, will sign Friday a new law that will shorten from 30 days to 21 the rights of asylum seekers to appeal negative residence permit decisions by the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri). 

Apart from cutting down on the right of asylum seekers to appeal negative decisions by Migri, conditions to appeal to the supreme administrative court will become stricter as well.

Näyttökuva 2016-8-12 kello 4.49.08
This cartoon by Ville Ranta pictures well how the government sees asylum seekers. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä says, “Will you stop squirting us [with blood]?” Source: Valomerkki.

Last year, 32,478 asylum seekers sought asylum in Finland but their numbers in 2016 have fallen significantly due to an EU agreement with Turkey to stop new migrants from coming to Europe. 

If you are looking for complex answers why the present government, which comprises of the Center Party, National Coalition Party (NCP) and Perussuomalaiset (PS)*,  wants to tighten immigration policy look no further because the answer is right under your nose.

When I speak to asylum seekers in Finland, I try to be as candidly as possible with them.

I apologize for telling you this, I usually say, but we have an anti-immigration government that doesn’t like you and wants you out of this country no matter what.

Some may blame the PS for the government’s hardline stance on migrants and cultural diversity, but in truth the PS’ partners in government, the Center Party and NCP, are no different. Aren’t they drafting and voting in favor of such laws?

Migrant Tales considers Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government as one of the most hostile ever to migrants. For certain since 1983, when Finland passed its first-ever aliens’ act, it is the most hostile government to asylum seekers and migrants.

The measures that the present government is taking to water down the rights of asylum seeker and migrants is shameful because it means “interpreting creatively” our international agreements and Section 6 of the Constitution, which guarantees that everyone, irrespective of his or her background, is equal before the law.

The reason why Finland is passing draconian laws against asylum seekers, migrants and minorities in this country is because it has serious issues with diversity.

Finland is happy if it can remain an island in Europe.

The recent tightening of family reunification requirements and making it more difficult to appeal negative residence permit decisions are examples that Finland is not only against cultural diversity but would never want to see migrants treated as equals by this society. Instead of looking for best practices, it looks at the xenophobic immigration policies of countries like Denmark, where the PS has close ties with the Islamophobic Danish People’s Party.

Historically, Finland has not only loathed cultural and ethnic diversity, it has been suspicious of foreign investment as the Restricting Act of 1939 (law 219/1939) reveals. The Act became redundant in 1992. It was only after 66 years when migrants in this country got their first aliens’ act in 1983.

The Restricting Act stipulated that foreigners could not own shares in sectors like forestry, securities trading, transportation, mining, real estate, and shipping. Foreigners weren’t allowed to establish newspapers, never mind organize demonstrations and be politically active.

One foreigner rights activist of the 1980s, Ahti Tolvanen, gives us a glimpse of the Aliens’ Affairs Office in the 1970s:

“There is a glaring lack of even printed information on matters with which the police are concerned, such as the rights and obligations of foreigners under Finnish law. Printed information about the accessibility of such services as health care, pensions, welfare and unemployment assistance for foreigners is almost non-existent… The head of the Aliens’ Office is Director Eila Kännö, who is known in police circles as a capable police official with a distinguished reputation for combatting international crime at Interpol. Among foreigners, she is better known…as an inflexible hardliner.”

Thus the decision to take away the rights of non-Finnish citizens is nothing new in this country.

Are we returning back to that dark legal period when people could be deported and imprisoned at will without the right to appeal?

We are not only returning bck to those days but institutionalizing racism and social inequality in Finland.

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.”