Landmark ruling by the administrative court of Turku: asylum seekers can get income support from Kela

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The administrative court of Turku overturned on October 17 a decision by Kela, The Social Insurance Institute of Finland, to deny income support to refugees or undocumented migrants that are forced to leave an asylum reception center and have their allowances terminated.  There are 30 days to appeal the administrative court ruling.

The landmark case, if it isn’t challenged, not only brings Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government down to earth by questioning the country’s harsh and arbitrary policy towards asylum seekers but exposes the poor decisions made by Interior Minister Paula Risikko.

Visit the Kela in English page here.

Doing away with residence permits on humanitarian grounds, banning people from asylum reception centers and cutting off their allowances is going to be costly since asylum seekers, and undocumented migrants will be entitled to income support.

“Even if we have to speak on humanitarian grounds, it’s important to look at the economic consequences as well,” said a legal expert who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Wouldn’t it have been cheaper for the government if it gave them a temporary residence permit and allowed them to live in reception centers?”

Kela said that it could not provide income support to an undocumented migrant because the person in question did not have a residence permit and did not live in Finland permanently.

Contrarily, the administrative court based its decision on the fact that income support is to help people, irrespective if they are foreigners or undocumented migrants, to meet their basic daily needs while in the territory of Finland. Moreover, denying such aid to people is unconstitutional, according to the court ruling.

The decision by the administrative court is in stark contrast with what Interior Minister Risikko’s statements in Helsingin Sanomat in December when she said that under no circumstances will undocumented migrants get income support from Kela.

Risikko and the government of Prime Minister Sipilä have taken tough steps against those asylum seekers who get two or more rejections for asylum. Apart from asking them to leave the country “voluntarily” or by force, measures, like banning them from asylum reception centers and cutting off their monthly allowances, are used to encourage them to leave the country.