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Court rules in favour of asylum seekers fighting deportation

Finland's Supreme Administrative Court has made two precedent-setting rulings in two asylum seeker appeals involving applicants from Afghanistan. The court ruled that immigration officials should consider the general security situation in asylum seekers' countries of origin as well as their personal circumstances, precluding forced deportations in many cases.

Mielenosoitus turvapaikanhakijoiden palautusta vastaan Helsinki-Vantaan lentokentällä 3. huhtikuuta 2017.
Protesters demonstrate against a deportation flight at Helsinki airport. Image: Seppo Samuli / Lehtikuva

The Supreme Administration Court ruled that the poor security situation in Afghanistan precluded applicants' safe travel back to their homes. However it rejected appeals in two cases, noting that the applicants could re-settle in other parts of the country.

Altogether, the court ruled on four cases, two concerning the security situation in Afghanistan and two that touched on the possibility of so-called internal exile in an applicant's country of origin as an alternative to granting asylum in Finland.

The court ruled that in some cases the general security situation in Afghanistan precludes deportation, as—even if there is a region where an applicant might be able to exist safely—getting there is a perilous endeavour and attempting the journey would endanger the asylum seeker's life.

Family networks an important consideration

In the first case the court ruled that the applicant could not be deported, after considering the applicant's personal situation and the security situation in his home region. In the second case, in which the appeal argued the difficulty of reaching a safe region from Kabul, the court ruled that there was no obstacle to deportation.

In another case the court ruled that internal exile would be unjust for a family that had been denied international protection by Finland. The court emphasised that the family had always lived in Iran, with the exception of the father's childhood, and the family now had no relatives or other networks in Afghanistan. The judgement was also affected by the fact that the mother in the family had close relatives already living in Finland.

In another case, the court rejected a family's appeal as they were seen to have lived in Afghanistan before and to have a network in Kabul.

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