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Minister: Ankle monitors "not cost-effective", will not be used on rejected asylum seekers

Coalition partner the Centre Party has insisted that ankle tags be used as outlined in the government programme.

Maria Ohisalo
Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo said that the use of ankle tags "would not make sense under the circumstances". Image: Antti Kolppo / Yle

Government appears to have shelved a proposal to use ankle monitors to track people whose asylum applications have been turned down.

According to Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo, an expert assessment conducted for the ministry concluded that ankle monitors would not serve the government programme.

"According to the expert assessment it would have been difficult to implement in the manner suggested in the government programme. The report came to the conclusion that it would not be cost-effective. It does not make sense under the circumstances," Ohisalo told television breakfast show Ylen aamu on Tuesday.

The government programme (p.87) states, "We will initiate a process of amending the Aliens Act to lay down provisions on technical monitoring of persons whose applications have been refused. This will be an alternative to detention and the residence obligation, constituting a less restrictive and more appropriate precautionary measure from the point of view of society."

Ohisalo told Yle News last July that although the programme mentions technical monitoring, there is no specific reference to ankle monitors.

"As I have previously stated, technical monitoring can take a variety of forms and the Ministry of the Interior will examine these different options. Also, it is important to emphasise at this point that nothing related to technical monitoring will be implemented before we have looked carefully into the matter," Ohisalo stated at the time.

The issue of ankle monitors for failed asylum seekers has reportedly been a bone of contention between the minister and coalition partner the Centre Party, which has insisted that the policy must be implemented as it has been outlined in the government programme.

No decision on more quota refugees

This week Finland is due to re-home 25 underaged asylum seekers from a refugee camp in Greece. They are the first of 175 asylum seekers from the Mediterranean that Finland agreed to accept last autumn.

Ohisalo said that the government has not held any discussions on whether or not to accept more refugees from the Mediterranean. She said that the bigger question is what the European Union’s immigration policies will be in the future. Member states are currently expecting a separate migration package from the European Commission.

The minister said that the government will decide on quota refugees during framework budget talks during the autumn. She added that the government programme includes a commitment to increase the number of quota refugees if asylum seeker numbers fall. Applications for asylum have been very low as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"It is more likely that we will look at that figure with a view to raising it again," Ohisalo said.

Last year the government announced that it would increase the number of quota refugees by 100 to 850.

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