Finland may put electronic footwear on immigrants who have had their asylum applications rejected, the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported.
If passed, the law will generally apply to immigrants, but especially to those who have received negative decisions on their asylum applications. The idea of electronic footwear, in Scandinavia known as “electronic fetters”, is to serve as an alternative to putting all illegal immigrants in physical custody, an option reserved for individuals deemed dangerous to the public. The Aliens Act lists several conditions for detention, including risk of escape, suspicion of crime or a threat to national security. With footwear in place, the authorities will still be able to keep track of them.
The question of whether the “fetters” requirement would also apply to children and minors, remains unresolved.
Earlier this year, a scientific report estimated the number of so-called “paperless migrants” who have decided to stay in Finland without a legal residence permit or despite being rejected, as 8,000, up from the previous 4,000. The researchers attributed at least a part of the blame to the government, municipalities, responsible ministries and the police, who failed to properly execute deportation decisions.
The digital footwear issue is part of the ongoing government talks in the Nordic country after a general election resulted in a tangled political landscape with no clear winner.
The requirement for digital footwear has been pushed by Finland's major parties, the Social Democrats and the Centre Party. The junior parties, such as the Greens, the Left Alliance and the Swedish People's Party have been forced to accept it.
Immigration is a topic of where opinions are most divided among the government negotiators. The Social Democrats and the Centre support a strict refugee policy, while the Greens, the Left Alliance and the SFP would like to raise the current quota of 750 people. Although the future government is likely to raise the quotas somewhat, but not high as the smaller parties are pushing for.
The Social Democrats' leader Antti Rinne, who leads the government talks and aspires to become Finland's next prime minister, has on several occasions said that a government programme is almost ready and about to be presented.