UN takes Issue with Finnish Expulsions of Torture Victims European Court of Human Rights and UN Have Imposed Several Bans on Repatriation

The European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations’ Committee

Against Torture have blocked several attempts by Finnish authorities to

repatriate asylum seekers who had been tortured in their home countries.


       The most recent such case was last week, when a pregnant woman who

had fled the Democratic Republic of Congo after being tortured and raped

was refused a residence permit in Finland.


The Refugee Advice Centre says that the situation has come to a head.

Increasingly, Finnish officials, including the Supreme Administrative

Court, have felt that traumatised victims of torture can be sent back to

countries notorious for violating human rights, such as Iran or Congo.


       The European Court of Human Rights and the Committee Against Torture

have issued four bans on the implementation of a deportation order.

Lawyers of the Finnish Refugee Advice Centre have said that in each of the

cases there has been a clear danger that the victim would again face

inhumane treatment.


The Finnish Immigration Service recently noted that torture on its own is

not always a sufficient reason for asylum or a residence permit.


       “The conditions of the home country of the applicant are taken into

consideration”, says the Immigration Service. The Immigration Service

points to situations in which conditions in the victim’s country of origin

have improved since the person has left.


The Refugee Advice Centre and the Centre for Torture Survivors in Finland

point out that some torture victims have been ordered to leave Finland

even though officials have not been able to demonstrate that conditions in

the country of origin actually had improved.


       For instance, the human rights situation in Iran and the Democratic

Republic of Congo has actually deteriorated in recent years.


According to Marjaana Laine, the leading lawyer of the Refugee Advice

Centre, another problem is that officials do not always recognise victims

of torture, and their special predicaments are not taken into

consideration in decision-making.


       “The gaps in our due process are leading to untenable situations. As

the decision-making involves assessments of whether or not a person is in

danger of being tortured or suffering some other inhumane treatment, it is

imperative that not a single wrong decision should be made.”


Victims of torture need treatment in safe conditions. Recovery from

serious traumas takes years.


       In a joint statement, the Refugee Advice Centre and the Centre for

Torture Survivors in Finland say that sending a victim of torture to the

country where the torture took place often constitutes inhumane treatment

in itself.


The issue of repatriating torture victims came up in a documentary film

directed by Marvi Junkkonen on four victims of torture. The hour-long film

was screened at the Docpoint film festival in Helsinki in January, and

will be televised on YLE TV1 at 21:30 on Monday evening.



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