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Interior minister: Asylum seekers must be tested on civic awareness

Reception centres now teach asylum seekers about Finnish norms and regulations, but the minister says they should be tested to ensure that the lessons are learned.

Sisäministeri Kai Mykkänen (kok.)
Kai Mykkänen took over as interior minister a year ago. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen is calling for asylum seekers to be tested after attending compulsory courses on Finnish society. Each asylum seeker over age 16 is now required to take a basic civics course on societal rules and norms. At the end of the course, each must sign an affidavit promising to follow these ground rules.

“It is not enough to simply take part in a course, but rather there is also a need to ascertain that the lessons have been taken on board,” Mykkänen said in a statement on Sunday.

“This will not of course solve everything, but by ensuring that the instruction has truly been understood, we will have a better basis for targeting serious measures against those individuals who do not follow the rules,” he added.

Govt plans moves to prevent sex crimes

Mykkänen says that the Interior Ministry’s supplementary budget proposal should include funding for a programme to pilot computer-based testing after the civics classes.

He notes that the cabinet plans to soon unveil “other measures aimed at preventing sex crimes and crimes committed by those of foreign background,” and that the ministry is preparing a revision of the Citizenship Act, which it expects to take effect next year.

In January, Mykkänen and other ministers were briefed by National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen on sexual crimes targeting minors and recent cases in Oulu and Helsinki. In a statement afterwards, the government said that “he problem is very extensive, and especially the numbers of children and young people contacted via the internet are growing,” adding that ministers had “examined the situation of asylum seekers who have received a negative decision on their asylum application”.

Election looms

The centre-right government is in the final months of its four-year legislative term. A new cabinet is to be formed following parliamentary elections in April.

Mykkänen, a first-term MP from the conservative National Coalition Party, took over the interior ministry portfolio a year ago. Before that, he served as minister for foreign trade and development. He succeeded Paula Risikko, who left the cabinet to become Speaker of Parliament.

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