21 May 2024, 18:50

Finland proposes new border law to block migrants

HELSINKI, May 21, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Finland's right-wing government proposed
on Tuesday a new law that would allow frontier guards to turn away asylum
seekers at the border, following a migrant surge Helsinki said was
orchestrated by Russia.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo told reporters new legal tools were needed after
the arrival last autumn of nearly 1,000 migrants without visas on its 1,340-
kilometre (830-mile) eastern border with Russia.

Helsinki has blamed the surge on what it says is instrumentalised migration
orchestrated by Russia, a charge the Kremlin has denied.

The Nordic country closed its border with Russia in mid-December after the
surge of migrants.

It extended the closure several times before announcing in April that the
border would remain shut indefinitely.

Orpo said the proposed law aimed to manage "instrumentalised" migration and
"counter the pressure exerted on Finland".

A restriction on "the reception of applications for international protection"
could be enforced in limited areas along Finland's border for fixed periods
of one month maximum, preventing asylum seekers from entering the country.

In these restricted areas, only asylum seekers in special need of protection,
such as children or people with disabilities, would be allowed to seek
protection, according to the proposal.

Their eligibility to apply would depend on an assessment of their case by
border guards.

Others would be expelled "in the first instance by verbal order, reinforced
by force if necessary", said Sanna Palo, who is in charge of legal matters at
the interior ministry's Border Guard Department.

Any "instrumentalised migrant" who entered Finland "would be removed from the
country without delay", the government said.

A governmental decision to enforce the emergency law would be taken in
"highly exceptional situations", based on "knowledge or a justified
suspicion" that a foreign state was attempting to threaten Finland's
sovereignty and national security, it said.

It would also require the approval of the country's president.

Critics of the proposal say it violates international agreements and human
rights obligations enshrined in the Finnish constitution.

Finland's chancellor of justice Tuomas Poysti -- the top official overseeing
whether the government's activities are legal -- said earlier this month that
such a proposal would be challenging from a human rights perspective.

The government said it had taken his remarks into account.

To become law, the proposal requires a five-sixths majority vote in

  • Latest News
  • Most View