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Rights Group: Some Immigrant Youth Sent Abroad by Force

According to a study by the Finnish League for Human Rights (FLHR), some children and youth of immigrant background are sent to other countries against their will by their families for a variety of reasons. The Migration Minister says it shows that officials must do more to intervene.

Image: YLE

For boys, the reason is often anti-social behaviour, while girls are sent abroad for arranged marriages.

However the group says the practice is not common. The study uncovered 40 cases of children or youth who have apparently been forced to leave Finland against their will, either temporarily or permanently. The report is based on information from 134 organisations and agencies who work with youngsters of foreign background, as well as individual immigrants.

There was great variation in the gravity of the individual cases uncovered. The researchers say they include "tragic" cases where human rights abuse and abandonment of a child is obvious.

In some cases, children leave willingly to their country of origin to stay with relatives and learn the language and culture. However, sometimes a child is sent off due to problems they have at school, or for antisocial behaviour.

If a child has no say on the matter, the event can be extremely traumatic. Under Finnish law, children aged 12 or over must be consulted on decisions concerning them.

More Statistical Information Needed

At the moment there is no way to gather firm statistics which would show how frequently children are sent off. As currently there is no single official body that registers this type of information, it is hard to keep track of the whole situation, says the League for Human Rights.

Some evidence from the current research demonstrates that the trend does not seem to be on the increase.

Thors: Officials Must Intervene in Forced Marriages

Reacting to the FLHR report on Saturday, Migration Minister Astrid Thors says authorities should intervene more readily in suspected cases of forced marriage.

Thors said the study reveals the need for strong action by officials. She said those who work with youth should be trained about issues such as forced marriages and so-called 'honour killings'. The minister also called for a central office to be set up for local officials to consult and report about these issues.

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