Migri reprimanded over splitting Iraqi family, deporting mother and child

The Parliamentary Ombudsman has warned Finland to pay closer attention to the welfare of asylum seeker children.

Picture does not depict the family in the story. Image: Heli Mälkiä / Yle

Finland's Immigration Service has been reprimanded over a case in which it deported an Iraqi mother and one of her children, even though her husband -- the child's father -- had been granted asylum. The family's other child, born after the mother's arrival in Finland, was allowed to stay with the father.

Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman Maija Sakslin said that nternational law offers special protection to children aged under 18. According to Sakslin that protection also applies to the children of asylum seekers.

According to Sakslin, protection means that each child's situation demands a separate, case-specific and detailed investigation. In the case of the Iraqi family, Migri did not make a separate evaluation of the deported child's circumstances.

In the decision to deport the mother, Migri cited the child's welfare. Officials said it was enough that the mother did not meet the criteria for protection under international law—therefore it was in the child's best interests to be sent back to Iraq with her mother.

Migri cited rulings in the Supreme Administrative Court in support of its decision.

Sakslin says those grounds are insufficient, and that a separate, thorough evaluation of the child's best interests should have been conducted.