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Interior Minister: Case of murdered Iraqi asylum seeker "sad and tragic"

Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen said on Monday that Finland's approach to security assessments of Iraq were very much in line with that of Sweden.

Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Freshly-named Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen said on Monday that he did not wish to comment on the death of an Iraqi asylum seeker who was shot and killed shortly after he was repatriated to his home country last year.

Formerly responsible for International Trade and Development, Mykkänen, took up official duties as Interior Minister on Monday after Paula Risikko was named Speaker of Parliament.

He described Ali’s case as sad and tragic but said that as a politician, he did not want to comment on a specific case. However he noted that the 46-year-old former policeman had gone through all of his legal options to seek asylum and had not been considered for non-refoulement, which is the principle of not sending an individual back to places where they face immediate danger.

”International protection is based specifically on the assumption that an individual faces persecution in the region to which they will be returned. In this case, the assessment was that there was insufficient reason for that assumption. What happened in that case is tragic,” Mykkänen said in a press conference after he officially took office.

Security situation under periodic review

Last week, the Finnish Immigration Service, Migri issued a report by two researchers, who described the security situation in Iraq as variable but improving. Asked whether the Migri assessment of Iraq was accurate, the minister pointed out that the Interior Ministry cannot direct immigration officials on how to conduct a security appraisal.

“As such, Finland’s policy with respect to security reviews of Iraq is very much in line with that of Sweden. These are evaluated periodically. Of course it is important for us to have the best possible information available so we can make such accurate and balanced appraisals,” Mykkänen added.

Migri: Decision makers not responsible for events after repatriation

Meanwhile, Migri has described Ali's case as “unfortunate” but did not offer further comment on individual asylum applications and decisions because of the obligation to keep details confidential.

The agency was responding to Yle's report on Monday, which detailed the case of 46-year-old Ali, who died from multiple gunshot wounds just weeks after he returned from Finland after being denied asylum.

Ali had applied for asylum in Finland but was rejected by both Migri and the administrative court. The Supreme Administrative denied leave for further appeals.

Migri: Officials reliant on info available at time of decisions

Migri said Monday that the outcome indicated that the applicants had exhausted all their legal options for receiving international protection in Finland.

“Decision makers cannot be [held] responsible for events that take place after a repatriation, if based on all the information available it has been decided here that there are no grounds for non-refoulement,” Migri said in a Monday in a statement, referring to the principle of not sending individuals back to locations where they might be subject to the death penalty, torture, persecution or other inhuman treatment.

The agency pointed out that in arriving at their decisions, officials investigate the threats and hazards that are known at the time. The agency said that it has no way of knowing whether or not the recent event is connected to the factors that the applicant cited in his asylum application.

According to Migri, the violence in Baghdad is not extreme enough to pose a real threat to anyone returning to the city. It also said that international protection is not even granted to individuals coming from areas with high levels of violence if internal relocation is possible.