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Finland should not violate international agreements by restricting the rights of people in need of protection

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Finland should not violate international agreements by restricting the rights of people in need of protection

27 March 2024
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This is a joint statement from UNHCR Nordic and Baltic Countries, the Finnish Red Cross, the Finnish Refugee Council, and the UN Association of Finland.

Finland is planning a law on temporary measures to combat instrumentalization of migration, which would introduce restrictions on the right to asylum at certain points or in the vicinity of Finland’s border, in order to protect the sovereignty and national security of Finland.

We recognize the challenges faced by Finland. Finland has the right to control and manage its borders, yet this can be done in accordance with international and European law. It is never acceptable to instrumentalize asylum seekers and refugees to achieve political goals.

The procedure outlined in the proposal allows for the denial of access to territory of asylum-seekers without an examination of their asylum applications in situations of instrumentalization. The proposal conflicts with international and European refugee and human rights law. As the European Court of Justice recently confirmed, pushback practices at border control points are incompatible with EU law. Such actions endanger lives and expose people to human suffering and serious human rights risks. In the worst-case scenario, this can lead to a humanitarian crisis.

The right to seek asylum applies to everyone, regardless of the mode of entry. This includes individuals assessed to be “instruments of influence.” The principle of non-refoulement is a non-derogable obligation under international law that applies to all states and cannot be deviated from. Finland must guarantee that those seeking asylum have effective access to a procedure that considers individual circumstances even in times of emergencies. The proposal does not do this.

Finland has a longstanding tradition of welcoming asylum seekers and refugees and has served as an example in adhering to international refugee and human rights law and defending the international system of rule of law. Deviating from this, including in situations of emergencies, would not only be contrary to international and European law but also creates a dangerous precedent.

We urge Finland to ensure the Bill is in line with Finland’s obligations under International and European Law.


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