Finland Times

Tuesday, 07 December, 2021
Home NATIONALMigri under pressure in handling asylum applications
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Thu, 08 Sep, 2016 12:00:31 AM
FTimes- Xinhua Report,Sept 8

While the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) has been hard-pressed to respond to the loads of asylum applications, it came under criticism of deliberately issuing negative decisions.

Last Sunday, Finnish language daily Helsingin Sanomat reported that Migri's officials responsible for handling asylum applications were working under pressure.

The officials complained that they were pushed to make decisions in their haste to meet the "unrealistic" targets set by the Ministry of Interior, and the quality of decisions might not be secured.

They also felt that they were required to make more negative decisions, and the sensation was based on the general atmosphere and the individual signals.

The story triggered wide public debate in Finland. Migri was criticized for hasty decision-making, tightened asylum policy and even deliberately making negative decisions.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä told local media on Sunday that his government had not put any pressure on immigration authorities and made no request for negative decisions.

Jaana Vuorio, director general of Migri, also denied that the agency's leadership asked the officials to reject as many as possible asylum applications.

The agency claimed on Monday asylum should be granted to those in need of international protection but not all asylum seekers arriving in Finland.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Interior set a target that the processing of asylum applications should be completed by the end of August, meaning that the immigration officials should make 600 to 1,000 asylum decisions on a weekly basis.

The agency then increased its workforce for the processing work from 75 people to 550, but it seems that the target cannot be fulfilled.

Currently, about 14,000 asylum seekers are still waiting for their fate, of which around 60 percent are from Iraq, 20 percent from Afghanistan, 10 percent from Somalia. Migri said it will clear the asylum queue by the end of 2016.

Opposition politicians and human rights organizations have blamed the situation as problematic.

"Let's guarantee that Migri has the necessary resources and time to process the applications with due diligence," Ville Niinisto, chairman of the Green League,  wrote in his Facebook pages on Sunday.

"Wrong decisions cannot be justified simply by noting that there is a short window to file an appeal," Li Andersson, Chairman of the Left Alliance, said in a press release on Monday.

In May this year, Finnish parliament deleted the category of humanitarian protection from the Finnish Alien's Act and the Migration Authority also changed the specific criteria regarding Iraq. Since then, the number of negative decisions for Iraqi asylum seekers has increased steeply.

About 70 percent of the asylum applications have been rejected, but the figure used to be some 28 percent before the tightening of regulations.

Finland received 32,000 asylum seekers in 2015, ten times of the average in previous years. The inflow of new arrivals has been eased in 2016.

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