18:58 GMT +315 December 2019
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    Migrants queue in front of a refugee reception centre in Tornio,Finland (file)

    European Court Faults Finland as Rejected Asylum Seeker Killed in Iraq

    © AFP 2019 / PANU POHJOLA / LEHTIKUVA
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    The decision marks the first time Finland has been found in breach of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that everyone has the right to life.

    The European Court of Human Rights has found Finland guilty of violating the European Convention of Human Rights in the case of Ali, an Iraqi man, who was denied asylum in 2017 and voluntarily returned back to Iraq, where he was killed a few weeks later.

    The court also ordered Finland to pay €20,000 ($22,000) to Ali's daughter, who is still in Finland, in compensation for the treatment of her father, national Finnish broadcaster Yle reported.

    The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ali had produced evidence that he was at risk of persecution and assassination attempts in his home country. For this reason, it ruled that Finland had violated Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that everyone has the right to life, and Article 3, prohibiting torture and inhumane treatment, marking the first time such a verdict has been passed against Finland.

    The man travelled to Finland with two of his children in September 2015. In January 2017, he received a negative asylum decision from the Finnish Migration Board (Migri). He appealed to the Administrative Court which upheld the decision. Then the man chose to return to Iraq voluntarily. A subsequent death certificate issued by a Baghdad hospital listed Ali’s cause of death as three gunshot wounds to the head and body.

    Ali was a Sunni Muslim from Baghdad, who served in Saddam Hussein's army and worked for a US logistics company after Hussein's ouster. Between 2007 and 2015, he worked for an authority under the country's Interior Ministry, where he investigated human rights violations and corruption, which allegedly jeopardised his stay in his home country.

    The Finnish Immigration Service admitted serious faults in its procedures and pledged to tighten its routines to avoid similar cases in the future.

    Meanwhile, barely a week ago, Migri issued a report that described the security situation in Iraq as “variable but improving”. The report found that despite the violence and kidnappings, the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, was safer following the defeat of Daesh*.

    Over the past two years, Migri has denied roughly 18,000 applications for asylum – 11,000 of which were from Iraq. Iraqis tend have the highest percentage of denials, which at one point reached 90 percent.

    As Swedish Radio earlier reported, there is systematic market for fake asylum stories among aspiring immigrants. For SEK 60,000 (roughly $6,000), you get an online history as a regime critic and a credible CV with a “100-percent guarantee”. According to Swedish Radio, such services persist in many countries, such as the US, the UK, and Germany. Repeat applications, applications under different names, and fake marriages are other common swindle tactics.

    Faced with a rejection, the alternative is between remaining in Finland without a residence permit awaiting forced repatriation by the Finnish police and leaving the country under a system of voluntarily returns overseen by the authorities. In choosing the latter option, which Ali apparently did, one is also rewarded with €1,500 ($1,650).

    * Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/IS/The Islamic State) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other countries

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    immigration, human rights, Scandinavia, Iraq, Finland
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