Legislative amendments on the introduction of the border procedure sent out for comments
The Ministry of the Interior has sent out for comments draft amendments to the Aliens Act that would enable the introduction of the border procedure. The border procedure would allow the processing of potentially unfounded asylum applications immediately at or in the vicinity of the border. This would prevent asylum applicants from travelling within Finland or from Finland to other EU countries. The deadline for submitting comments is 23 May.
The border procedure could be applied if the asylum seeker has come from a safe country, for example, or submitted an application that is manifestly unfounded in some other way.
The Finnish Immigration Service should make a decision on the application within four weeks of its submission. To enable the rapid procedure, the Finnish Immigration Service could organise asylum interviews via videoconferencing or by means of some other technical solution. The Immigration Service has had positive experiences with remote interviews during the pandemic.
In normal circumstances, the border procedure would apply to an estimated few dozen applications per year. The benefits of the procedure would be highlighted in a situation where hybrid influence activities that exploit migration would be directed against Finland.
Applications would be thoroughly examined also in the border procedure
Each application would be examined individually, thoroughly and fairly also in the border procedure. The border procedure would not apply to vulnerable asylum seekers, such as victims of human trafficking, if, during the rapid procedure, they could not be guaranteed the special support they need in the asylum procedure.
The draft proposes alternative solutions with regard to the extent to which the border procedure could be applied to unaccompanied minor asylum seekers. The final proposal will be made based on the comments received.
Applicants should stay within the grounds of the reception centre
The border procedure is based on EU legislation. Some of the issues related to its application need to be resolved at national level, such as restrictions on movement during the procedure and the end of the procedure.
According to the draft proposal, the asylum seeker would have an obligation to stay on the grounds of the reception centre assigned to them located at or near the border. As a rule, they would not, however, be detained: they could move freely within the grounds of the reception centre.
A clear end date for the procedure is important for the legal protection of the asylum seeker, as the obligation to stay within the grounds of the reception centre assigned to them would end at the same time. The draft presents situations in which the border procedure would end.
The proposal is not related to the reform of the Emergency Powers Act
There is a variety of different types of operative, legal, diplomatic and economic means for responding to the instrumentalisation of migrants. Diplomacy is the primary means of responding when a foreign state exerts political pressure by exploiting migrants. However, legislation must be clear and the authorities must have sufficient powers to act pre-emptively and respond effectively to such influence activities.
This proposal to introduce the border procedure, which is now under preparation, is part of legislation for normal conditions. The Emergency Powers Act is applied in emergency conditions. On 28 April, the Government also proposed that new provisions on hybrid threats be added to the Emergency Powers Act. Further provisions are being prepared for the Emergency Powers Act to strengthen preparedness for hybrid influence activities that exploit migration.
Sanna Montin, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 314, [email protected]