Stop Deportations: Shady Forced Repatriation Practices at Baghdad Airport

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Stop Deportations
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March 12, 2018

Shady Forced Repatriation Practices at Baghdad Airport

Stop Deportations was in contact today with a Baghdad Airport policeman via the Danish journalist Kods Almsaray. The policeman did not want his name published. We asked under what terms and agreements they accepted Iraqi asylum seekers forcibly repatriated to Iraq by the Finnish police when the Iraqi immigration minister had said Iraq did not accept any forcibly repatriated Iraqis. The source at Baghdad Airport said they accepted only asylum seekers convicted of crimes, such as terrorism, for example. The criminal background check was done in such a way that the airport police got the forcibly repatriated asylum seeker’s legal documents from the Finnish policemen escorting him, Mohammed said.

When we said the forced returnees were largely ordinary asylum seekers who had not done anything illegal while they were in Finland and most were still in the middle of asylum application process, the line went dead.

Several forcibly repatriated asylum seekers have confirmed the Finnish police gave their asylum application papers at the airport to the Iraqi police, who made photocopies of them. Then the Iraqi police questioned why the applicants went to Finland and checked whether they were on the Iraqi Interior Ministry’s list. All of this put the forced returnees in grave danger, as the asylum application papers contained confidential information about how the applicants were persecuted and who persecuted them.

One can also end up on the Interior Ministry’s list for quite arbitrary reasons and those who are on the list can be victimized indefinitely.

The lack of a passport is no longer an obstacle to forced repatriation when the Finnish police can write up a disposable “European travel document for third-country nationals illegally residing in the country,” although asylum seekers whose application review process is still underway are not residing illegally in Finland.

Forced returnees who even had steady jobs when they left Finland have shown us pictures of their European travel documents. According to the documents, they had been residing in Finland illegally.

Last week, Stop Deportations asked Finnish Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen on the basis of what treaties and documents Finland has been engaged in forced repatriations to Iraq, when neither official Iraq nor Finland has admitted to the repatriations. The minister managed to avoid answering the question. An employee with state-owned Iraqi Airways estimated today, in conversation with Stop Deportations, that Finland is currently the most active forced repatriator in the EU. But where is the agreement on forced repatriations? Where are the transparent practices?

Translated by Living in FIN. Thanks to Comrade AR for the heads-up. Photo courtesy of Stop Deportations

Finland Asylum Seeker Blues (MigriLeaks)

10 Problems with Migri’s Processes and Decisions

For the past month, Iraqi and Afghan asylum seekers, in particular, have been demonstrating in downtown Helsinki. One of their central demands is that asylum cases in which there have been problems in the handling should be processed again.

The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) systematically refuses to admit the problematic nature of its processes and decisions, let alone fix them. An excellent example of this was Migri Director General Jaana Vuorio’s op-ed piece, “A Negative Decision Is Not a Wrong Decision,” in the 3 December 2017 issue of Helsingin Sanomat. A negative decision is definitely not a wrong decision, but a flawed decision is a flawed decision.

What, then, are these problems?

1. Migri has been using inexperienced and inappropriate interpreters. For example, an Iraqi asylum seeker’s Arabic language interpreter may have been from North Africa. The Arabic dialects spoken in Iraq and North Africa differ to such an extent that the asylum seeker and the interpreter may not have understood each other seamlessly, whereupon the interpreter has made essential errors in the translation. Yes, the asylum seeker is asked whether s/he understands the interpreter, but this is difficult to verify when the asylum seeker cannot know what the interpreter is translating in reality.

2. Migri has been leaving essential questions unasked or unclarified in the asylum interview, even when the asylum seeker has clearly said s/he has more to say. (See, for example, Ali’s case.)

3. Migri has been ignoring and minimizing the testimony offered by the asylum applicants. For example, not all the written evidence has been translated and, among other things, the value of photographs and doctor’s certificates has been nullified.

4. The asylum process should be unique. That is not the case now, however. Migri, for example, has been copying and pasting the texts of asylum decisions that are not in any way relevant to the asylum seeker’s case. (See Item 1 here.)

5. Migri has been leaving out of negative asylum decisions essential details that have come up in the interviews, details suggesting the asylum seeker is at serious risk. (See, for example, Nouri’s case.)

6. In its negative asylum decisions, Migri ignores the fact that persecution is likely to continue in the future, even when the information and evidence given by the asylum seeker clearly indicates the persecution will continue. This, for example, is the case when the asylum seeker has been asked about at his or her parents’ home in the recent past.

7. It is quite common that the actual target of persecution, such as a family’s father, is being blackmailed by threats or even the kidnapping and torture of other family members. Migri, however, seemingly evaluates these cases more from the perspective of Finnish society than from the perspective of the asylum seeker’s society, and thus does not believe that children could be targetted for persecution in addition to the father, even when a direct threat to a child has been presented in evidence. (See Fatimah’s case.)

8. Migri refuses to believe so-called secondary information, for example, that an asylum seeker’s home has been subjected to bombing. Migri doesn’t consider this information reliable if the asylum  seeker has not witnessed it herself or himself, but has only heard about it from another family member, for example.

9. In its negative asylum decisions, Migri has admitted that the asylum seeker is subject to personal persecution, but the decision has been made, however, in light of the overall security situation in his or her country, not on the basis of the application’s personal criteria.

10. Migri’s country guidelines, on which [its assessments] of the safety of a country or region are rationalized, are based, at least in part, on outdated sources and are not in line with the UNHCR’s present guidelines.

Such are all the faults of this kind, which are not based on Finnish laws, but on Migri’s internal practices. Thus, Migri can also fix them.

Although Migri admits mistakes have occurred, it blames them on individual employees. However, the mistakes in Migri’s processes and decisions have been so widespread that they cannot be a matter of mistakes on the part of individual employees. Rather, the mistakes seem to be standard and deliberate practices at Migri.

Migri also evokes the fact that asylum seekers have the right to appeal decisions to the Administrative Court, which corrects possible mistakes. The Administrative Court’s decisions are mainly based on the documents produced by Migri, so mistakes that have occurred in Migri’s processes are repeated  rather than rectified in the appeals process.

MigriLeaks will return to these problematic points in more detail in future posts.

Source: MigriLeaks

Translated by Living in FIN. Thanks to Comrade AR for the heads-up and Comrade EN for help with the translation. Photo courtesy of Meeri Utti/Aamulehti