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2% of rejected asylum seekers pose security threat, says NBI

A police risk assessment of thousands of asylum seekers who have received negative asylum decisions has concluded that just over 200 present a potential danger.

Keskusrikospoliisin nimi talon seinäkraniitissa.
Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

The investigation and intelligence arm of the Finnish police force has conducted a risk assessment of over 9,000 people who have received a negative asylum decision in Finland since the autumn of 2017.

The risk assessment was intended to pinpoint what the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) refers to as "individuals who have the potential to commit series crimes in Finland". This group of people will then be prioritised for deportation.

Based on their intelligence information, the NBI concluded that some 200 people of the 9,000 total presented this kind of risk, as they had either been suspected of committing a crime at some point or suspected of "posing a threat to national security".

The frequency and severity of any suspected crimes was also a factor in the risk assessment.

"It is determined by the whole picture, although attempted murder and assault on its own can also lead to prioritization," says the NBI’s crime inspector Ritva Elomaa.

The NBI has not compiled a statistical breakdown of the offenses in question.

Not sure of their location

The actual number of rejected asylum seekers who made the list and are still in the country may be much smaller than 200, however, as many are believed to have left the country or been deported.

The National Police Board that supervises police operations in Finland says the list of priority deportations will likely be subject to daily changes.

"We have to go through the names on the list one by one and see who has already been deported," says the Board’s police inspector Mia Poutanen.

The effort is further complicated by the fact that the police are rarely informed about rejected asylum seekers that choose to leave the country on their own initiative.

Finnish Police try to prevent rejected asylum seekers from disappearing by interning them in detention centres until they can be deported.

"People who have committed serious crimes are usually in prison, and deportation takes place once their prison sentence has been served," Poutanen says.

Some of the individuals with criminal records may have also reapplied for asylum, and international laws say they cannot be deported as long as their application is pending.

Deportation dependent on local police

The NBI says that when a person who is assessed to be a potential risk is identified, a case is made for his or her deportation to the police department that presides over the municipality where the person lives. These local police are ultimately responsible for carrying out the deportation, and therefore decide on when and in what order the deportations take place.

Rejected asylum seekers are just part of the foreign-background population that police have decided should be deported, however. For example, in the first half of 2018, over half of the 1,200 people the police deported from Finland were Russian and Estonian citizens.

"The way I see it, a rejected asylum seeker who has been convicted for manslaughter is on the same level as a foreigner convicted of the same crime, when it comes to deportation decisions. Our most important interest in prioritizing removals from the country is the degree of danger that is presented," says the Police Board's Poutanen.

Turku attack inspired assessment

The government of Finland commissioned the risk assessment of rejected asylum seekers after the Turku stabbing on 18 August 2017 that left two people dead and eight more injured. The man who received a life sentence for carrying out Finland's first-ever terrorist attack, Abderrahman Bouanane, had earlier received a negative asylum decision from the Finnish authorities.

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