Helsingin Sanomat article on the Finnish Immigration Service sheds light on an institution distanced from human rights and Nordic values

by , under Enrique Tessieri

It is surprising that whenever a Finnish government tightens immigration policy, it washes its hands by stating that it’s common practice in the EU or Sweden. Is it? If a landmark decision last month by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is anything to go by, the government’s hardline stance on returning asylum seekers to a “safe” country like Iraq is more than questionable. 

The controversial case in Sweden, involving three Iraqi asylum seekers and the Swedish government ended in a favorable ruling for the Iraqis.

Writes the Daily Express:

“The controversial case could set a precedent for the remaining 27 member states after the court’s refusal to accept the national judgement.Sweden ordered the deportation of the trio after turning down their asylum claim in 2011. Decision makers ruled although there is an ongoing terror threat in Iraq, the danger is not such that it effects every person in every town. But the family fought the government in the highest court and have won the right to remain.”

Even if a lot of people were surprised by Sunday’s Helsingin Sanomat story about the tough line that the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) concerning Iraqi asylum seekers, we weren’t.

One recent victim of Migri’s policies is Mohammed Khulbus Idnan, a former Iraqi asylum seeker who returned to his country and was shot by militias.

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Pictures of Mohammed Khulbus Idnan in hospital after returning to “a safe” country like Iraq.

After meeting with many asylum seekers and workers at asylum reception centers, it was clear that Migri had in place a “fast-track” system to send back as many asylum seekers as possible to countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

After the Helsingin Sanomat story was published on Sunday, there was nothing than denials from Prime Minister Juha Sipilä that the government wasn’t pressuring Migri to make as many negative decisions as possible.

The denial by the prime minister is highly incriminating.

(UPDATE 5.9) Social Democrat MEP Liisa Jaakonsaari blames directly the government for Finland’s hardline stance.

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Jaakonsaari tweets that “it’s despicable to blame the Finnish Immigration Service when in fact [the hardline stance on asylum seekers] is government policy.”

(UPDATE 6.9)

It appears that Khulbus Idnan isn’t Migri’s only victim. The Facebook posting below was published on Monday.

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Thank you Tino Singh for the heads-up.

Another posting on Monday in Migrant Tales tells about a young Iraqi asylum seeker who attempted to take his life because Migri had forced him to lose all hope.

A quote in the Helsingin Sanomat story sheds a lot of light about the shameful treatment of asylum seekers in Finland. Claiming that Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia are “safe” countries  raised a lot of questions even at Migri.

“I was taken aback by the [Migri] press statement,” a Migri employee was quoted as saying in Helsingin Sanomat. “The assessment [that Iraq is a safe country] didn’t hinge on the [real security] situation in these countries or even on our own assessments. It doesn’t say anywhere that the security situation of these country has improved. Since then I’ve been ashamed to work at Migri.”


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Read the full story here.

Even if Prime Minister Juha Sipilä deny that they have pressured Migri to make fast-track decisions on asylum applications, the government’s fingerprints are everywhere.

We have one of the most anti-immigration governments in Finland for a long time which simply doesn’t like Muslims and wants to deport them from the country at any cost. Ever heard of the National Coalition Party, the Center Party and the Perussuomalaiset?*

A word of warning to Prime Minister Sipilä: In the 1980s and before, Migri was a state within a state run by a self-styled dictator called Eila Kännö.

The then Aliens’ Office suffered the fate that many dictators face when they believe they are above the law and invincible. They sow the seeds of their own demise.

In the 1980s, the harsh line of the Aliens’ Office raised objections by the media and the public and turned against Migri.


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.”