Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Tougher law for rejected asylum seekers on cards

08 Dec 2018, 03:46 ( 7 days ago)

DF Report
Asylum seekers at a temporary centre. DF File Photo.

The government on Wednesday submitted a proposal to the parliament with the view to amend the processing of subsequent applications for international protection.

The amendments are based on the EU Asylum Procedures Directive. Finland has not previously included all the provisions of the Directive in the Aliens Act, said an official press release on Friday.

"A state governed by the rule of law must ensure fair consideration of asylum applications. This also includes the right to appeal to courts and a possibility to make a new application if there is a legitimate reason. The asylum system does not work if a person who has received a final negative decision does not leave the country. With these amendments we aim to prevent the misuse of subsequent applications for the purpose of delaying the processing," said Interior  Minister Kai Mykkänen.

A subsequent application refers to an application for international protection that a foreign national makes after receiving a final decision on a previous application submitted to the Finnish Immigration Service or an administrative court.

The purpose of the new amendments is to increase the efficiency of the processing of subsequent applications by asylum seekers by specifying the admissibility criteria. This amendment would not, however, prevent the submission of subsequent applications.

In future, applicants would have to be able to present well-founded grounds for not having previously presented the arguments they are now making in the subsequent application. Such grounds may be changes in the applicant’s home country or in his or her personal circumstances in Finland. The applicant may also have well-founded reasons relating to their vulnerability, shame or fear. These grounds are taken into account when the Finnish Immigration Service considers whether the subsequent application will be examined.

In practice, the threshold for considering the first subsequent application is lower than in the next subsequent applications as applicants may well have such reasons, relating to the above situations, for which they are only presenting grounds now in the subsequent application.

A decision to refuse entry that is issued on the basis of the first negative decision on asylum could also be enforced despite a subsequent application if the subsequent application does not fulfil the criteria for admissibility and it has been submitted only for the purpose of delaying the return.

In practice, this means situations in which the arrangements for the removal from the country have already been made and a new application is not submitted until at the airport, for example.  Therefore, the subsequent application must be submitted as soon as there are grounds for it, not just when the person is being returned.

According to the statistics of the Finnish Immigration Service, the number of subsequent applications has grown rapidly in 2017 and 2018. Many applicants have already submitted several subsequent applications. Subsequent applications account for about half of all applications for international protection submitted in Finland.

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