Non-return of persons from Finland to Afghanistan – policy in line with UN advisory
This week, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has released a non-return advisory calling for all countries to suspend the return of Afghan nationals to their country of origin. The advisory also applies to the return of asylum seekers who have had their claims rejected. Finland has followed this policy for several weeks now.
According to the Government Programme, Finland is committed to continuing cooperation to ensure that the policies of the authorities concerning the situation of key countries of origin and the internal protection alternative are in line with the recommendations of the UN Refugee Agency.
“The Finnish authorities have closely monitored the development of the security situation in Afghanistan. In July, Finland was one of the first countries to react to the matter and, in practice, suspended returns to Afghanistan,” says Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo.
On 9 July, the Finnish Immigration Service suspended decision-making processes leading to a negative decision based on which a person would be returned to Afghanistan. This will continue until the Finnish Immigration Service has assessed the security situation in Afghanistan and reviewed policy guidelines on the country. Decision-making on positive cases will continue, and new country information and the prevailing situation will also be taken into account when assessing the conditions for granting asylum.
In Finland, returns of foreign nationals are carried out by the police. Following the decision of the Finnish Immigration Service, the National Police Board decided that returns to Afghanistan would be postponed, and that no further returns would be prepared until the Finnish Immigration Service has finalised its assessment and reviewed the country guidelines.
“Finland, like all EU countries, complies with the principle of non-refoulement included in international human rights treaties and also in our Constitution and the Aliens Act. No one should be returned to an area where they would face death penalty, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and other irreparable harm. At the moment, the situation in Afghanistan is extremely serious, and human distress in the region is great,” says Minister Ohisalo.
The development of the security situation in Afghanistan is closely monitored both in Finland and at EU level. Last week, the Government decided that Finland will receive 170 people from Afghanistan. This quota includes Afghans, and their families, who have worked for the authorities.