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Dual citizen denied place at police college over Russian ties

The institution said the applicant's obligations as a Russian citizen might be in conflict with the duties of a police officer.

Poliisiammattikorkeakoulu ulkoa.
File photo of the Police University College building in Hervanta, Tampere. Image: Petri Aaltonen / Yle

Finland’s Supreme Administrative Court (KHO) has overturned the ruling of a lower administrative court in the case of a dual Finnish-Russian citizen who was denied a study place at the Police University College in 2018.

The applicant who had passed the college’s entrance exam was refused a place because a personal security report found that reliability requirements were not met. The lower court had initially ruled that the applicant could not be denied the right to study.

The higher court has now annulled this decision, ruling in favour of the police college. The institution’s reasoning was that the applicant's obligations as a Russian citizen might be in conflict with the duties, under Finnish law, of a police officer.

"There is evidence that in Russia, Finnish and Russian dual citizens are considered to be only Russian citizens and that efforts have been made to put pressure on dual citizens employed by the Finnish Security Authority," KHO said in its decision.

The court also emphasised that the ruling was not based solely on the applicant’s dual citizenship, nor was it a reflection of the applicant’s integrity, but was made in line with the police college’s efforts to ensure all applicants have no affiliations that might expose him or her to undue external pressure or other influence.

"There were no grounds for considering the refusal of the place of study to be discriminatory. The decision was not based solely on the applicant's dual nationality, but on a case-by-case assessment of the circumstances," the court ruled.

College: Dual Russian citizens can serve in police force

The applicant had argued that preventing dual nationality citizens from becoming police officers was at odds with the college’s intensified efforts to recruit students with a foreign background, as well the police’s attempts to stamp out discrimination within the force.

In response, the college acknowledged that a campaign had been launched to recruit students with an immigrant background, and there are also students currently studying at the college whose second mother tongue is Russian.

"Because foreign affiliations had not been clarified before the current law came into force at the beginning of 2018, it is possible that Russian dual citizens also serve in the police force," the college said in a statement.

In its ruling, the court also stated that Russian citizenship alone should not be considered as an affiliation which would, always and as such, jeopardise the proper and independent performance of police duties.

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