U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Finland
|Publisher||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants|
|Publication Date||25 May 2004|
|Cite as||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Finland , 25 May 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/40b4593a4.html [accessed 22 July 2014]|
Finland hosted nearly 2,300 refugees and asylum seekers at the end of 2003. These included about 850 refugees admitted from overseas, 1,400 asylum applicants awaiting a first-instance decision, and 7 persons granted asylum during the year.
During the year, over 3,200 persons applied for asylum, similar to the number in 2002. Most asylum seekers came from Russia (290), Serbia and Montenegro (290), Turkey (190) and Croatia (170).
The Directorate of Immigration, the initial refugee status determination authority, considered about 1,400 cases under normal, procedure and about 1,900 in an accelerated procedure in 2003. Of those, the Directorate granted asylum to 7 persons, an approval rate of 0.2 percent – one of the lowest in the European Union. The Directorate granted 140 residence permits on protection grounds. Holders of such permits are entitled to the same public assistance as recognized refugees and can apply for family members to join them in Finland. The Directorate also granted 350 residence permits on other grounds, including family reunion, humanitarian grounds, and where removal was not possible.
The Directorate rejected the applications of over 2,400 persons during the year. Of these, they deemed 1,300 applications manifestly unfounded while 480 applicants were returned to other countries under the Dublin Convention. (See "Dublin Convention" box, World Refugee Survey 2003, p. 176.)
The Helsinki Administrative Court received 770 appeals and made decisions on 550 of them, 290 under the accelerated procedure. It overturned negative decisions under the normal procedure in 47 cases or 18 percent, but in only 17, or 6 percent, of those in the accelerated procedure.
During the year, Finnish authorities and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) resettled 850 refugees, mainly from Iran (180), Afghanistan (140), and Sudan (120).
In December, the Finnish parliament passed a proposal for a new Aliens Bill. The new bill retains much of the 1991 Aliens Act and its amendments but according to the Ministry of Interior, tries to clarify the asylum process. The bill retains Finland's accelerated asylum procedures, despite criticism expressed by UNHCR, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, and the European Committee against Racism and Intolerance. The bill also proposes to return unaccompanied children granted residence permits on humanitarian grounds to the country of their parents' residence. The legislation is likely to be enacted in May 2004.
In October, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment criticized Finnish authorities for forcibly sedating a family of Ukrainian asylum seekers during their deportation in 2002. The government immediately held an internal enquiry and admitted using forceful injections of sedating and neuroleptic medication on 16 occasions, twice against the deportees' will. At year's end, the investigations were continuing.