Day 18 of the Helsinki demonstration by asylum seekers: What about if Finland’s asylum policy is a cover-up?

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The fact that the district courts agree in vast majority with the rejections handed by the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) speaks volumes of the serious problem and our responsibility as a nation to grant protection to those who need it.

Finnish politicians like Interior Minister Paula Risikko of the National Coalition Party and officials like Päivi Nerg of the interior ministry and Migri head Jaana Vuori wash their hands of the problem by passing the buck. They claim they are only following what the EU does and that the district courts totally agrees with the vast number of decisions by Migri.

The fact that the vast majority of decisions made by Migri are given the seal of approval by the district courts may reveal that there are many problems that are being brushed under the carpet. From a distance, it looks like a good brother system where everyone looks after each other.

With respect to the EU, we know that different countries have different procedures. EU member Sweden, for example, accepted  73% of asylum applications in the third quarter while in Finland the corresponding percentage was 28%, according to Eurostat.

Concerning rates of acceptance, Finland is in the same dubious league like the Czech Republic (32%), France (32%), United Kingdom (28%), Ireland (19%) and Greece (18%). The worst of the worst are Poland (16%) and Hungary (12%). Contrarily, the most generous countries – excluding Sweden – concerning granting asylum are Spain (77%), Malta (77%), Slovenia (74%), Romania, Estonia and Germany with 73% apiece.

If Finland is “following the EU crowd,” why are there more rejections in this country than in Sweden?

Considering that Migri head Vuori has admitted that it was overwhelmed by the large number of asylum seekers that came in 2015, what mistakes did it make and is ready to admit? Speaking with different human rights observers, there is concern that Migri hasn’t done a thorough enough job in processing asylum applications because of the lack and inexperience of new personnel.

Add to the latter the negative and even hostile political climate against migrants and especially asylum seekers and a worrying image emerges.

Is there enough political will in Finland to investigate such a matter?

Picture taken of the demonstration on Saturday. Still going strong after eighteen days on February 28. Photo by Enrique Tessieri.

The best evidence we have that Migri has done an inefficient job is its high “success rate” with the district courts, which may show more complacency due to the ongoing political climate which sees asylum seekers as a threat.

Visiting the demonstration on its fifteenth day for the first time on Saturday was an honor for me. For Migri, the district courts and the government it must be an embarrassment.

These asylum seekers at the Helsinki Railway Square are a constant throne in the side of the country and a reminder to all of us that we should never ditch our Nordic values of fairness and justice towards others who may seek them in our country.