People found guilty of serious offences may in future lose their Finnish citizenship

Ministry of the Interior 25.4.2019 11.54
Press release 33/2019

The Nationality Act will be amended so that a person found guilty of certain serious offences may lose their Finnish citizenship. The Government submitted the amendments to the Act for approval on Thursday 25 April, and the President of the Republic is to approve the bill on Friday. The Act is scheduled to enter into force on 1 May 2019.

An individual may lose their Finnish citizenship only if they are also a citizen of another country and have sufficient de facto ties to that country. The decision on the annulment of citizenship will be made by the Finnish Immigration Service.

An individual may lose their Finnish citizenship if found guilty of an offence against the vital interests of Finland for which the most severe punishment provided is at least eight years of imprisonment. Such offences include compromising the sovereignty of Finland, incitement to war, treason and espionage. The loss of citizenship also requires the individual to have been sentenced to at least five years of unconditional imprisonment.

A person may also lose their citizenship if they are convicted of a serious offence with terrorist intent, such as a breach of the prohibition on chemical weapons, aggravated trafficking in human beings, hostage taking, a nuclear explosive offence, kidnapping or killing. In this case, a further condition is that the crime in question was committed against the vital interests of Finland.

Other offences, although severe, cannot, within the framework of the European Convention on Nationality, be established as grounds for a loss of citizenship. International conventions binding on Finland have an impact on the provisions that can be issued on the loss of citizenship.

"Loss of citizenship is an exceptional sanction. Individuals convicted of treason and terrorist crimes have, however, lost their loyalty to Finland and the Finnish people," says Caretaker Minister of the Interior Kai Mykkänen.

It is not possible to lay down provisions on loss of citizenship with retroactive effect. Therefore, citizenship can only be lost on the grounds of such offences that have been committed after the amendment has entered into force. The new amendment does not allow, for example, annulment of Finnish citizenship of Finnish ISIS fighters who have fought in the conflict areas of the Middle East.

Inquiries:

Hanna Pihkanen, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 256, [email protected]
Titta Andersson-Bohren, Special Adviser, tel. +358 50 513 1539, [email protected] (requests for interviews with Minister Mykkänen)