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Interior Ministry aims to block repeat asylum applications

There are thousands of people in Finland whose asylum applications have been turned down. Some file new applications in an effort to delay deportation, says the Interior Ministry.

Arkistomappeja hyllyssä.
Applications awaiting processing at the ministry. Image: Juha-Pekka Inkinen / Yle

The Finnish Interior Ministry is pushing for changes in laws on asylum applications that would make it impossible for the same person to re-apply multiple times – as is now in effect allowed. The moves would also boost the police’s ability to deport those who try to apply for asylum more than once without just cause.

At present, those whose applications are rejected often try to start new asylum processes before police deport them, says the ministry.

In theory, one can submit an unlimited number of new asylum applications. By law, each application must be re-examined if the applicant presents new grounds for it.

Some re-apply as delaying tactic

The number of re-applications and their share of overall applications have grown, as there are thousands of people in the country whose have received negative asylum decisions and are trying to avoid being sent back to their homelands. More than half of those filing repeat applications are Iraqis.

“We intend to clarify the procedures on asylum seekers’ re-applications so that those with appropriate reasons will be processed, but misuse with the aim of creating a delay will be limited, particularly from the third application on,” Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen said in a statement on Wednesday.

As it is, repeat applications are not considered unless they are submitted based on new grounds. And under current law, an individual can be deported if they have re-applied using the same rationale as before.

If the proposed legislative reform goes through, a person could be deported if a revised application is considered but then rejected. In other words, the change would make it easier for authorities to remove someone from the country if their first re-application has been dismissed as frivolous.

Religious conversions and homosexuality

The Interior Ministry says the idea is to get the message across that any re-application must cite a clear, valid reason for granting asylum.

“If someone has new grounds for asylum, they must be presented as early and comprehensively as possible,” says Kukka Krüger, Chief Senior Specialist at the Interior Ministry.

One reason commonly given for re-applications is an applicant’s reported conversion to Christianity and fear of persecution if he or she returns home. In another typical kind of case, an individual says that he or she failed to mention being gay in an original application, but cites this as grounds for a new filing.

Krüger says that such renewed applications would be considered even if the legislative change goes ahead.

“In practice a re-application [based on homosexuality] would be considered, because in these situations there may be good reasons why the issue was not raised earlier. Conversion to Christianity may also be a reason that has developed while an earlier application was being evaluated. So in practice such applications would also be considered,” she tells Yle.

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