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Scores of deportees grounded in Finland

Finland currently hosts scores of individuals facing deportation orders. In many cases Finnish authorities end up granting them residence permits, since no other country – not even their homeland -- will accept them.

Finnish police are having a hard time deporting some foreigners convicted of serious crime in Finland. 

The police tightened their deportation laws two years ago, following the deadly New Year’s Day 2010 shooting incident at the Sello shopping centre in Espoo, when an Albanian shot four shoppers after killing a former girlfriend at her apartment. The gunman later took his own life.

Deportations for serious crimes

Deportation efforts are particularly stymied when the deportee’s own homeland rejects him. Police generally deport foreigners resident in Finland if they are found guilty of a serious crime.

“Aggravated drug crimes, aggravated violent crimes, sometimes property violations as well, if there are enough of them,” explained Chief Inspector Veijo Rissanen of Helsinki Immigration Police.

The Finnish Immigration Service makes final deportation decisions, based on recommendations made by the police.

Immigration Service Unit Director Olli Koskipirtti pointed out that police began stricter enforcement of deportations two years ago following the Sello shootings.

Finnish police currently deport nearly 200 hardened criminals annually. However deportation is a slow and laborious process involving the police, immigration authorities, the administrative court and the Supreme Administrative Court. Koskipirtti noted that as a result the entire process could take up to three or even four years.

Politicians have also weighed in on the issue. A recent nightclub shooting incident in which the gunman was found to be Vietnamese also sparked debate in the Parliament about deportation laws.

During the discussion National Coalition MP Ben Zyskowicz reportedly called for “two burly policemen” to escort the suspect back to his homeland in Vietnam.

Unwelcome in their own countries

However Rissanen of Helsinki’s immigration police pointed out that Vietnam was one of the countries where deportation proved to be problematic.

“It doesn’t work with Vietnam, among other countries. They have come back and have sat in the embassy drinking tea and discussing the case, nut nothing more has happened,” he explained.

“The guy stays here, apparently forever. Unless something is done at the political level to solve these matters,” he added.

The Immigration Service’s Koskipirtti said that there are currently scores of foreigners who have received deportation orders, but who cannot be sent away because they are also unwelcome in many other countries.

“Then they stay here in Finland. And then in principle we have to grant them a residence permit,” Koskipirtti concluded.

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