What about our civil rights?
These temporary politicians, bureaucrats and judges are contemptible.
Finland’s Supreme Administrative Court recently ruled that returning an Afghan asylum seeker to Hungary was problematic because of the country’s asylum procedures.
The court declared that deporting asylum seekers via Serbia threatened the fundamental rights of people seeking international protection. As a result of the Court’s decision the Finnish Immigration Service has suspended asylum seeker returns to Hungary.
The Afghan asylum seeker had come to Finland by way of Hungary and Serbia. The Supreme Administrative Court deemed that there is a risk that the man would be deported from Hungary to Serbia and from there to Afghanistan without having any authorities assess his asylum application or his need for international protection. Hungary is the only EU country that considers Serbia to be safe for asylum seekers and returns them there.
The Court determined that there are major problems with Hungary’s asylum procedures. It pointed to large numbers of asylum applications, difficulties in providing legal guidance and other problems facing asylum seekers in Hungary. It said that these factors made it impossible to be clear if the man’s return to Serbia and other third countries would be stopped or deferred.
The Court said that the fact that the man could appeal a deportation decision to the European Court of Human Rights did not offer him any protection from being returned to Serbia.
No deportations to Greece and Hungary
The man first sought international protection in Hungary. As a result the Finnish Immigration Service did not investigate his application but decided to deport him to Hungary in December 2014.
The Helsinki Administrative Court upheld the immigration agency’s decision, but the higher court’s move to overturn the previous ruling now means that the officials must consider the man’s application.
Head of the immigration agency’s asylum seeker unit Esko Repo said that the Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling has set a national precedent. He noted that in addition to Greece, Hungary has now become the second EU country to which Finland will not deport asylum seekers.
Repo said that the agency’s management team will now review the court decision and will not make any further decisions to send asylum seekers back to Hungary.
The Court said that there would be reason to re-evaluate deportations to Hungary if the country changes its policy of returns to Serbia. A decision by the European Court of Human Rights may also change the current situation.
Minister: Hungary violating EU laws
Following the ruling, Interior Minister Petteri Orpo sharply criticised Hungary’s practice of deporting asylum seekers to Serbia. He accused the country of violating common European laws.
“It’s intolerable that somewhere in the European Union there is a country where this kind of human rights situation can exist, where returns based on the Dublin Treaty cannot be made,” Orpo commented during a meeting of EU Interior Ministers in Luxembourg.
The Dublin Regulation states that if an asylum seeker applies for asylum in an EU country, he cannot apply for it again elsewhere. The purpose of the rule is to reduce asylum “shoppoing” from country to country.
Orpo said that he would raise the matter with his peers. Finland is not the only EU member state that will not return asylum seekers to Hungary – neighbouring Sweden has also terminated the practice.
“This is an EU matter, member countries should uphold common regulations and also respect human rights agreements if these basic matters are to work,” Orpo declared.