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Justice Minister: Asylum seekers a security threat to Finland

Justice Minister Jari Lindström says that asylum seekers pose a security threat to Finland. The minister was responding Friday to news that police are investigating about ten reported rape cases in which asylum seekers are suspects.

Oikeus- ja työministeri Jari Lindström eduskunnan täysistunnossa Helsingissä perjantaina 20. marraskuuta.
Oikeus- ja työministeri Jari Lindström eduskunnan täysistunnossa Helsingissä perjantaina 20. marraskuuta. Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

Justice Minister Jari Lindström said Friday that he was appalled by the latest reports of suspected rape cases in which asylum seekers were alleged to be the perpetrators.

"Asylum seekers are a security risk," Lindström said during lunch with journalists earlier in the day.

He noted that police are currently investigating roughly ten such cases.

Earlier on Friday, police in Raisio in southwest Finland reported that they were looking into an incident in which a 19 year-old asylum-seeker was arrested on suspicion of the rape and aggravated assault of a 14 year-old girl.

In Kempele near Oulu, police are also continuing investigations into another case, in which an asylum seeker was remanded into custody Thursday for the suspected rape of a 14 year-old girl earlier in the week. Commercial broadcaster MTV reported that the young man was Afghan.

The Finns Party minister said that he was concerned and upset about the suspected crimes.

"These acts are cowardly and deplorable and they cannot be in any way accepted, regardless of who the perpetrator is," Lindström declared.

The minister also said that he didn’t understand why a suspicion or even a conviction on rape charges didn't influence the asylum process.

"If I declare my personal position, I’d have to say that it’s truly incredible, but existing international agreements play a part in this matter," Lindström told Yle.

Words of comfort for Finns Party supporters

Lindström said that he wanted to reassure all members of the public, but especially Finns Party supporters.

"Be patient (and know) that the government, and the Finns Party as a member (of government), are doing everything we can. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that we bring this situation under control," he said.

The Justice Minister said that his ministry is currently exploring avenues to intervene in problems that arise.

"By no means should we stigmatise all asylum seekers. It’s good that police have done their jobs well and have detained suspects," he added.

Edit: This story was updated on 30.11 to include Justice Minister Jari Lindström's direct quote describing asylum seekers as a security risk.

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