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Migri chief: Asylum rejections are fair, staff is competent

The head of the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) has defended her agency and denied that asylum application rejections issued by the service were unfair, saying that her staff is competent.

Jaana Vuorio
Director General of the Finnish Immigration Service Jaana Vuorio. File photo. Image: Milla Vahtila / Yle

During an interview on Yle's A-studio news programme on Wednesday, Director General of the Finnish Immigration Service, Jaana Vuorio, denied accusations that her agency had unfairly rejected asylum applications or that her staff was incompetent.

"We really focused on developing our decision-making process last autumn," said Vuorio, adding that her staff is highly trained and competent, pointing to an EU-financed quality assurance report.

"We monitor legal issues and quality levels of asylum assessments, throughout the application process and we carefully analyse all of the cases that are sent back from administrative court," she said.

Vuorio did however acknowledge there were difficulties at Migri a year ago when the agency was faced with the recruitment of staff in order to process a sudden influx of some 35,000 asylum applications.

"Although some errors may have taken place at the time, the situation has clearly improved since then," she said.

Refugee rights expert 'concerned'

The Managing Director of the Finnish Refugee Council, Annu Lehtinen, said that she is still concerned about the protection of asylum seekers' rights.

"Due to a change in the law, legal aid for applicants is more limited than it was before," Lehtinen said.

For nearly three weeks, a group of asylum seekers and their supporters have been demonstrating in downtown Helsinki. Most of them are men from Iraq and Afghanistan. The protesters claim that Finland has been deporting asylum seekers unjustly.

The protesters' chief demand of Finnish authorities is to stop the deportations.

Delegations from the protesters met with Vuorio and other Immigration Service officials this week.

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