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Finland to reconsider 500 asylum decisions after European court ruling

Authorities will re-evaluate some cases in light of harsh criticism from the Court of Human Rights.

Maahanmuuttovirasto.
Image: Lotta Sundström / Yle

The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) says it will revisit about 500 asylum decisions following a European court ruling critical of a previous deportation.

Last week the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found Finnish authorities guilty of violating the European Convention on Human Rights. The case centred on an Iraqi man who was killed in Baghdad in late 2017, soon after Finland rejected his asylum application and deported him.

Migri says it wants to ensure that any cases similar to those in the case are identified.

Some cases where applicants have received enforceable negative asylum decisions will face new scrutiny, if the cases were processed before the 14 November ECHR ruling.

Migri says it will look through these decisions to make sure that they have been handled in accordance with the ECHR ruling. If any flags are raised, asylum seekers may be asked to re-apply.

Finnish authorities "failed to comply with their obligations"

The ECHR statement drew attention to risk evaluation, including how events in an applicant's past are taken into consideration in weighing possible future threats. It also told Finnish authorities that in this case they should have considered the general cumulative effect of individual factors in the applicant's background.

In its decision, the court declared that Finnish "authorities and courts were aware, or ought to have been aware, of facts which indicated that the [man] could be exposed to a danger to life or a risk of ill‑treatment upon his returning to Iraq". As a result, it concluded that they "failed to comply with their obligations under Articles 2 and/or 3 of the Convention when dealing with the...asylum application".

Two days before the ECHR decision, Migri published a report stating that "the reintegration of Iraqi returnees to their home region has succeeded to a fair extent".

In recent years, Iraqis have formed the largest group of people seeking asylum in Finland. In 2017, more than 1,450 did so, nearly twice as many applicants as from Syria. A slightly higher number of Iraqis applied last year, with Russians this time a distant second.

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