Posted on May 22, 2024

Finland Will No Longer Take in Migrants From Russia

Denes Albert, Remix, May 21, 2024

The Finnish government is preparing to introduce a bill to keep migrants out of Finland in defiance of international law. Anyone trying to apply for refugee status by crossing the Finnish-Russian border from Russia would automatically be refused.

Finland already closed its border with Russia last year after an increasing number of Syrians and Somalis started arriving via this route. The Finns say that Moscow, like Belarus on the Polish border, is artificially creating a refugee crisis at the border.

The ruling coalition is trying to excuse the violation of international human rights by saying that the law will be applied temporarily and with restrictions. In any case, the proposal will go before the Finnish Parliament this week, where its constitutionality will be examined by the Constitutional Affairs Committee. As it is a crucial law, it can only pass through parliament with a five-sixths majority — so its success is far from guaranteed.

“Since this phenomenon (of arriving migrants) is being controlled by Russia, we cannot allow it. We have to supplement our laws,” Prime Minister Petteri Orpo told journalists.

Only 40 people have crossed the Russian-Finnish border so far this year after the border crossings were closed. Last year, however, 1,300 asylum seekers crossed the border, and the Finnish authorities fear that the number will start to rise again as the weather warms up. “Thousands of people are still waiting in Russia for the opportunity to reach the Finnish border,” Orpo said, citing intelligence reports.

The law would also allow border police to use force when returning asylum seekers, but this would not apply to children and people with disabilities.

The Finnish Social Democrats have not yet said whether they will support the bill, stating they will wait for the final version first. However, anti-discrimination ombudsman Kristina Stenman said it would be worrying if Finland stopped examining asylum applications from people arriving at its borders.