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PM: Flawed asylum decisions will be addressed in court

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä says that flawed asylum decisions will be righted in the courts. Sipilä used Prime Minister’s question time to address newspaper reports of immigration officials who said they felt that they were under pressure to deny as many asylum applications as possible.

Juha Sipilä Kesärannassa 1. syyskuuta 2016. Image: Laura Kotila / Valtioneuvoston kanslia

On Sunday the daily Helsingin Sanomat reported that immigration officials felt that they might have botched some asylum decisions in their haste to meet tough targets set by the Interior Ministry.

The paper interviewed immigration workers who said that they felt that they were under pressure to hand down decisions on asylum applications as quickly as possible. In so doing, they said, the quality of some decisions had suffered.

In his monthly meet the press interview, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä took the opportunity to refute the suggestion that the government had been putting undue pressure on immigration authorities.

According to Sipilä, Finland had reviewed its own immigration policies to bring them in line with those of other Nordic countries. He noted that officials had adopted a hard line because of the unusual immigration situation. However he said that slapdash asylum decisions didn’t reflect his administration’s intent.

"I trust that at the latest, the court will correct flawed decisions," Sipilä said during his monthly question and answer session with the media.

Helsingin Sanomat also reported on Sunday that immigration officials it interviewed felt that they were required to reject as many asylum applications as possible. The prime minister said that government had made no request for negative decisions.

"I don’t know where this pressure is coming from. Finland complies with its international agreements," he responded.

Some decisions by the Finnish Immigration Service that have been made public have referred to the possibility of internal relocation inside Iraq. The immigration service recently tightened its approach to asylum seekers from Iraq, saying that the capital Baghdad was now a safe place to return to. It has also denied asylum to Iraqis whom it believes can relocate to other parts of the country rather than abroad. Sipilä said that he understands the reasoning.

"I could imagine that if the situation in Finland was similar, then even in Finland we could move from an unsettled location to another. The case is similar in Iraq," the PM commented.